Structural loads or actions are forces, deformations, or accelerations applied to a structure or its components.
Loads cause stresses, deformations, and displacements in structures. Assessment of their effects is carried out by the methods of structural analysis. Excess load or overloading may cause structural failure, and hence such possibility should be either considered in the design or strictly controlled.
Mechanical structures, such as aerospace vehicles (e.g. aircraft, satellites, rockets, space stations, etc…), marine craft (e.g. boats, submarines, etc.), and material handling machinery have their own particular structural loads and actions.
Engineers often evaluate structural loads based upon published regulations, contracts, or specifications. Accepted technical standards are used for acceptance testing and inspection.