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Tough Sanctions Set to Control Pallet Health & Safety

10 Nov 2014

Health and safety should be a primary area of concern for all businesses, but it is particularly crucial within the logistics sector. The nature of the work and the types of machinery that are used can cause accidents if workers and managers do not take the safety aspects seriously. Wooden pallets can be a source of these accidents, especially if they have been incorrectly stacked. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is imposing tough sanctions on those businesses that fail to comply with their guidance.

Minority Not Meeting the Standards

The majority of companies within the logistics sector operate within tight controls where health and safety is concerned. However, there will always be some that choose to flout the rules, whether to save time and money or because they simply aren’t aware of the risks. The HSE is coming down hard on these businesses, as inadequate safety measures can increase the risk of a serious injury or even a fatality occurring.

Recently, a fine was handed out to Colombier (UK) for an incident that occurred on their premises in 2009. One of their workers suffered three breaks to her leg after a stack of pallets containing paper fell on to her. The injury is still affecting her life after five years. The company has been fined more than £30,000, after the HSE prosecuted them for not having the correct safety measures in place. The issues were not highlighted in a risk assessment, which meant that the problem was not managed appropriately. The method that they used for stacking and storing pallets was not one recommended by the HSE.

The Safe Use of Pallets

Placing pallets into a safe stacking system does not take considerably longer than storing them in an unsafe manner. However, it will dramatically reduce the number of accidents that happen. Risk assessments are designed to identify areas of concern and ensure that the right systems are put in place to deal with them.

It is the concern of everyone within a business, from the workers on the floor to the senior managers, to ensure that the correct safety procedures are in place. If they are all aware of the risks, then potential problems are less likely to occur. One of the issues raised by the Colombier incident was that the managers did not deal with safety concerns that were brought to their attention.

Whether pallets are empty or loaded, they should always be stacked correctly. It is essential that they are stored horizontally, even if they are not currently being used. The stack must be stable and not too high. The height of any stacked pallets should take into account the surrounding area and any risks that there might be regarding moving machinery or workers. Only pallets that are of the same size should be stacked on top of each other. It’s also important to remove any pallets that are in a poor condition, as this can affect the stability of a stack.

Wooden pallets are an important element of the logistics industry. As long as they are used in the correct manner, they should be an asset to businesses rather than a source of accidents.

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