Live Chat
Skip to main content

MLITSD material handling inspections on now: be prepared

Prepare for MLITSD Material Handling inspections

One thing that is common to almost all workplaces is material handling. Whether it’s an automotive factory, food manufacturing facility, steel plant, or agricultural operation, materials come into the workplace, get moved around, and are shipped out. How things are moved around—whether manually or with machines—can be hazardous, which is why the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development (MLITSD) is currently focusing on it. 

For the second year in a row, the MLITSD is conducting a focused inspection campaign on material handling at industrial workplaces.  The campaign runs April 1, 2024 - March 31, 2025, with inspectors set to visit all types and sizes of manufacturing operations, from agriculture and automotive to food and beverage manufacturing. Workplaces where new and young workers may be present will also be a focus.

Statistics shared by the MLITSD indicate a disturbing trend. Over the last five years, hazards relating to material handling continue to be the top causes of workplace fatalities in the industrial sector. In 2023 alone, 13 fatalities were the result of a worker being crushed or struck by materials or equipment. As a result, inspectors will be paying close attention to job tasks that put workers at risk of these incidents. 

“While this campaign covers all material handling tasks, inspectors will be paying particular attention to jobs like cleaning around moving equipment, repairing or adjusting machinery, lift truck operations around storage systems, pedestrian traffic around moving equipment and machinery, as well as manual handling of materials," cautions Don Patten, WSPS specialized consultant (ergonomics). 

Farming and agriculture operations often involve complex material handling because of the non-standardized loads they work with. Don advises these businesses to pay particular attention to their manual handling practices and equipment, and to ensure that the produce receptacles being used are appropriate and in good condition.

Proper planning is key

According to Don, proper planning is the best way to prepare for this campaign. “Start by reviewing how your workers are moving in and around equipment and whether you have the appropriate plans to keep workers and equipment apart."

"It’s also a good idea to complete a risk assessment,” says Don. A risk assessment will help identify the hazards associated with moving your materials. Understanding these hazards will help you determine the safest way to get the job done.

Norm Kramer, a warehouse and distribution specialist with WSPS, echoes Don’s emphasis on planning. "Where you move material is just as important as how you move it," says Norm. "You need to ensure that pathways and aisles are large enough for operators to safely turn without hitting pedestrians or storage racks,. For example, if you have a conveyor system that connects to an aisle and you find that there is a lot of traffic in the aisle, it may be practical to change the layout, such as the positioning or location of the conveyor,  so that a lift truck can pick up the material in a less busy area.”  Norm also recommends looking for opportunities to have more one-way routes, eliminating blind spots, and considering technology that will warn both operators and pedestrians of each other’s presence.

Review training and maintenance documentation

When onsite, the inspector may not only conduct a physical inspection of the workplace, but an administrative review as well. This would include assessing the effectiveness of training and communication. They will want to see evidence that workers have received training and that they understood the content.

“To prepare for an administrative review, ask yourself: Who has what role? Has each worker completed the training required for their role? Is the training documented? Are workers implementing what they learned in training?” says Norm. For example, ensure that all of your forklift or mobile crane operators have completed training and have up-to-date certificates. "Inspectors will also look for documented evidence that equipment and vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained, so ensure that this information is readily available as well," advises Norm.

During their visit, if an inspector identifies a contravention under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, they may issue an order. If they discover something that is an immediate threat to worker health and safety, they may issue a stop work order, halting work completely until the issue is resolved.

How WSPS can help


Connect with a WSPS consultant to learn how you can improve your material handling safety and ergonomic controls.


Manual Material Handling (eCourse; 1 hour. Also available in French)

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Prevention Awareness (eCourse; 1 hour)

Safe Lifting and Manual Material Handling Training Course  (online, instructor-led; half-day)

Safe Lifting & Manual Materials Handling - Supervisor (online, instructor-led; 1 hour)

Inspecting & Maintaining Steel Storage Racks - Training (online, instructor-led; 1 day)


Safety Connection: MLITSD Materials Handling Campaign - The Essentials (free virtual event)

Safety Connection: MLITSD Fines & Penalties in Warehousing & Distribution (free virtual event)

Safety Connection: So an employee reports a musculoskeletal disorder... now what? (free virtual event)


Preparing for a Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Inspection

What to expect when a Ministry inspector comes to your workplace (article)

Manual and Mechanical Material Handling

Material Handling resources for workers, supervisors and employers
* worker resources available in 6 different languages

Business in Motion: Managing Material Hazards (free tool)

Material Handling Job Aids 

Safety Check: Manual Material Handling

Safety Check: Storage Rack Safety

Material Handling – Struck by objects, caught between or crushed by objects (MLITSD resource)

What is Manual Material Handling and Legislation Employers Need to Know (video)

How Can Workers Identify Lifting Hazards (video)

What Should Employers Include in Lift Truck Training? (video)

Ten Tactics to Safely Introduce Robotic Material Handling Systems (article)

Prevent workplace injuries and overexertion caused by manual material handling (video)

What should workers know about manual material handling techniques? (video)

What types of policies and procedures support a traffic management program? (video)

Warehouse Safety Tips - Manage Pedestrian and Traffic Safety (video)