How to Properly Store a Stack of Empty Pallets
07 Dec 2017
Wooden pallets are such everyday objects in warehouses and logistics operations that businesses sometimes assume they’re not much of a hazard and there’s no need to worry about how they’re stored or stacked. Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to accidents, damage to racking, disputed insurance claims and even health and safety prosecutions. So let’s take a look at the key methods for storing pallets safely.
Don’t Stack Pallets Side-Up
When operators are unloading and stacking pallets, they often start off with good intentions, storing them horizontally. But then maybe there are a few left over, the forklift is busy or the operator can’t reach the top of the stack so the last few get propped on their sides against the main stack.
Wooden pallets can have protruding nails and jagged pieces of wood, and when stacked vertically they are prone to fall over, often on to workers who are then injured. Even if your workers are used to storing pallets safely, at busy times a delivery driver may store the pallets in an unsafe way. So the warehouse team need to be constantly aware of the need for good housekeeping with pallets.
Understand the Risk to Your Employees from Poor Stacking
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a guidance note on pallet safety (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/pm15.pdf). Unsafe stacking which results in falling pallets or an entire stack tipping over is one of the causes of accidents it refers to in the guidance. Note that you should have a risk assessment for safe use of wooden pallets in the business.
The HSE makes the point that because pallets are heavy, accidents involving them tend to be serious. A number of fatal accidents have been caused by falling pallets. And of course, wooden pallets are often heavier than plastic ones.
Build Stacks Correctly
Never stack differently sized pallets in the same stack – this is one cause of instability and pallet falls. For example, don’t mix UK pallets, which are larger (1200mm x 1000mm), with Europallets, which are smaller (800 mm x 1200 mm).
Don’t make the stack too high, and don’t position it right next to inventory, where it may be pushed by drivers manoeuvring around racking. And it goes without saying that damaged pallets mustn’t be used in a stack – they may collapse, tipping the pallets above them on to workers. In any case, damaged pallets are a major hazard to the people handling them, so if a pallet is broken or splintered, it should be removed.
Use Correct Handling Techniques
Wooden pallets are not designed to be moved by equipment such as sack trolleys. Using the wrong equipment for stacking the pallets can damage and loosen the base boards. If this isn’t noticed and the damaged pallet goes into the stack, it automatically reduces the stability and safety of the stack. If you move and store the pallets correctly, they will last longer and your staff will be working in a safer environment.