This resource does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations and should not be used as or considered legal advice. Health and safety inspectors apply and enforce these laws based on the facts they find in the workplace.

Hazard summary

Large steel coils have the potential to cause serious injury or death as a result of improper storage and handling. This can occur when workplace parties have not taken appropriate precautions to ensure that the lifting, carrying, moving, placement or storage of steel coils does not endanger the safety of any worker.  

Coils are generally either narrow or broad which affects their physical properties. This makes the requirements for safe storage and handling different. Inadvertent movement of coils, improperly stored coils, or coil collapse (due to poor coil integrity) can result in workers being struck by or crushed by coils  

Narrow coils

Narrow coils are very stable when laid flat (bore-vertical or eye to the sky). They are unstable when they are standing on the narrow edge (bore-horizontal or eye to the horizontal). If they are stored on edge they can easily roll. If they shift laterally, they can be easily knocked over. If they are stored against another without support, they can slide away from the bottom under their own weight. A domino effect may also occur.

Narrow coils should only be stored bore-horizontal if they are adequately supported or secured by fixed supports in a leaning coil rack or banded together to form a stable unit. Coils can be stored lying flat and formed into a stack. Pallets can be used to support these stacks, ensuring that wider diameter coils are not placed on top of narrower coils.

Broad coils

Larger broad coils are too big to be stored in the bore-vertical or eye to the sky configuration. Because of their size they can roll and be difficult to stop. They should be stored on a stable, level surface and chocked to prevent movement. When stacking broad coils, employers should consider the downward forces on the lower base-level coils. Such forces may cause stack failure and collapse.

Precautions to consider


The handling of stock can occur during:

  • processing
  • manufacturing
  • staging
  • vehicle loading
  • delivery
  • unloading

Poor planning and organization are often underlying causes of serious injuries such as broken or crushed extremities or fatal injuries.

Coils are typically found stored in one of two general categories of storage systems. The first is the “engineered” system, that can range from fixed chocks, simple racks, lock-in chock systems to large, engineered racking systems. Procedural systems refer to those that rely on procedures or safe operating procedures (SOP) to achieve safe storage. These systems may use moveable wooden or rubber chocks on a suitable floor surface.

There is an extensive variety to equipment that needs to be considered in the storage of coils, depending on the size and type of coils. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • lifting devices that are appropriate in the circumstances and meet applicable standards and regulations, including any attachments, slings or chains as required
  • storage systems or racking systems — employers who are installing these systems may be required to conduct a pre-start health and safety review in accordance with section 7 of Regulation 851 for Industrial Establishments
  • fixed-chock systems, moveable chocks or cradles
  • strapping or banding

Locations and sectors

Steel coils can be found in various industries including pipe manufacturing, structural steel members, electronic equipment, automotive parts, metal-stamped parts, home appliances, metal furniture and the construction industry to name a few.

Key legal requirements

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers have general duties, including the duty to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers, which includes protecting workers from hazards that can arise from the handling and storage of steel coils.  

Under the Regulations for Industrial Establishments (Regulation 851):

  • All materials (including steel coils) required to be lifted, carried or moved, shall be lifted, carried or moved in such a way and with such precautions and safeguards, including protective clothing, guards or other precautions as will ensure that the lifting, carrying or moving of the steel coils does not endanger the safety of any worker [clause 45(a)].
  • Materials shall be transported, placed, or stored so that the coils will not tip, collapse or fall and can be removed or withdrawn without endangering the safety of any worker [clause 45(b)(i) and 45(b)(ii)].
  • Steel coils to be removed from a storage area, pile, or rack, shall be removed in a manner that will not endanger the safety of any worker [clause 45(c)]. Materials that may tip or fall and endanger any worker shall be secured against tipping or falling [clause46].
  • In a factory, a pre-start health and safety review is required if materials, articles or things are placed or stored on a structure that is a rack or stacking structure [clause 7(2)], and either:
    • a new apparatus or structure is to be constructed, added, or installed or a new process is to be used, or
    • an existing apparatus or structure or process is to be modified and one of the following steps must be taken to obtain compliance with the applicable provision:
      • new or modified engineering controls are used
      • other new or modified measures are used
      • a combination of new, existing, or modified engineering controls and other new or modified measures is used

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