OSHA Regulations for Stacking Bulk Storage

Bulk Storage

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) sets stacking and storage regulations for stored goods to ensure the safety of employees and others in the facility. While the type of heavy-duty shelving you use is important, knowing how to stack your merchandise correctly is also critical. Collapsing loads and falling stock can seriously injure employees and damage materials.

Whether stacking your stock using a forklift or manually, your business is responsible for the safety of everyone in your building. If an employee gets injured on the job, it could result in a costly lawsuit or even a fatality.

Learning and understanding OSHA regulations for stacking bulk storage should be a critical part of any onboarding and training program, especially if your warehouse stocks cumbersome or hazardous products. Employees should also be aware of weight-bearing limits and the condition of the warehouse racking on which the inventory is stored.

What Are the OSHA Basics for Stacking Bulk Storage?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists general requirements for material storage in “1926.250(h) – General Requirements for Storage”. The document recommends several general warehouse measures to ensure safe bulk storage, stacking, and compliance.

General Considerations

How often your product is accessed dictates how your product should be stored. Frequently-accessed products should be easily accessible to prevent constant retrieval of difficult-to-access items.
OSHA recommends that walls and beams be painted with stripes to indicate maximum stacking heights easily. Strict enforcement of height limitations should be observed to ensure safety and stability.
You should also use floor tape around the edges of stacks to provide a visual reminder of where loads should be stored.
OSHA recommends using signage throughout the facility to indicate areas with pedestrian traffic, vehicle traffic, and loading areas to keep your warehouse safe and running smoothly.

How to Stack Products

Depending on your business and your inventory, your stock may come in various shapes and sizes. The physical quality of your stock dictates how you arrange the storage of materials in your warehouse.

Pipes and Other Cylindrical Materials

Pipes and similar materials should be stored in cantilever racks and away from the main aisle to prevent them from inadvertently rolling out of the rack. Stack the material to prevent it from spreading out and collapsing.

Our galvanized cantilever racks are perfect for storing a range of cylindrical and irregular loads. They are made with galvanized steel for incredible durability, even in harsh climates. In addition, they are adjustable to fit the needs of your warehouse and feature a completely open front to allow for simple loading.

Barrels, Kegs, and Drums

Barrels, kegs, and drums should be stacked symmetrically and secured with pallets or plywood dunnage between the rows to prevent them from falling. If stored on their side, the lowest tier should be blocked on either side to prevent rolling and shifting.

Bundles and Bags

Any stored material in bundles or bags should be stacked in blocked, interlocking rows. All bagged material should also be cross-keyed every ten layers.

Bales of Paper or Rags

Bales of paper or rags must be stored inside a building with no less than 18 inches between the bales and walls or support columns. There should also be a minimum of 18 inches between the top of the stack and the fire sprinkler.

Boxed Materials

All boxed materials should be banded, cross-tied with plastic fibers, or stretch-wrapped to remain stable. If possible, you should stack boxes of similar size and weight together.

Height limitations

OSHA’s maximum height limitations will depend on the stacking materials you store. If you are storing materials above 12 feet for an area greater than 500 square feet, you may need a high pile storage permit.


All lumber stacks must be level, supported with bracing, and free from nails. If you are stacking lumber manually, it must not be stacked more than 16 feet high. If the lumber is stacked with a forklift, the stack must not exceed 20 feet high.

Loose Brick

Any loose brick stacks should reach no more than 7 feet in height. OSHA also requires stacks of loose brick to be tapered back 2 inches for every foot of height past 4 feet.

Masonry Blocks

Any masonry blocks stored in tiers shall be stacked back one half-block for each tier above 6 feet in height.

Stacking Bulk Storage

Stacking Methods

You should consider how you stack your materials to ensure stability and safe handling. Regardless of your stacking method, you should always stack heavier items closer to the floor to prevent your stack from collapsing.

Block Stacking

Block stacking involves stacking materials directly on the floor without using racks. This method is commonly used for stacking pallets or other large, strong materials. If you use the block-stacking method, you should stack stock in a cube and secure it with shrink wrap or wire.

This method is the cheapest way to stack loads since it doesn’t require additional equipment; however, it also puts materials at higher risk since they are not secured with a rack. The height of the stack is also limited with this method, which can restrict your warehouse’s use of vertical space.

Brick Stacking

Brick stacking is similar to block stacking but involves turning each stack level 90 degrees. This ensures stability and prevents the stock from falling or tipping if bumped.

Pinwheel Stacking

Pinwheel stacking is an even more secure method of material stacking. This method is similar to brick stacking but involves turning each quadrant 90 degrees. Pinwheel stacking allows the load to be locked, preventing falls or tips if bumped.

Irregular stacking

If you are stacking irregularly-shaped materials, you will have to use the irregular material stacking method. This involves placing a sheet of plywood between each load layer to standardize and stabilize the stock.

Final Word

At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we can help you design and install the most suitable industrial shelving for your products to help you safely and more efficiently store your materials.
We can also help you design your racking system in accordance with applicable state and local codes, allowing you to safely stack your product and adhere to all OSHA regulations. Contact a Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. team member by calling (800) 589-7225 and find out how we can help you store your materials today.