How To Work Safely With Wooden Pallets
18 Jun 2018
Pallets may appear to be one of the more benign objects in a warehouse or storage facility, but they can actually be responsible for a wide range of injuries when used incorrectly. Pallets have been known to cause puncture wounds, splinters, broken toes and feet or even worse. In fact, improper use such as a using as a man lift can even prove perilous. We take a look at why it’s so important to work safely with wooden pallets and offer a number of guidelines for this.
Never Stand Pallets on Ends and Stack Carefully
Empty, broken or discarded pallets should never be left on their ends. Pallets standing on ends are likely to fall and can therefore be a hazard. Pallets that are both in and out of use should always be stacked carefully, ensuring no overhangs and that all are stable. When stacking pallets, keep stacks below four foot high. This is to ensure that pallets and goods stored on them can never fall on heads.
Avoid Use of Damaged Pallets
A key way to work safely with wooden pallets is to avoid the use of damaged pallets. Damaged pallets should be fixed or recycled but should never be used for storage. Damaged pallets can break, giving way to heavy items which can then fall and hurt individuals. Damaged pallets are also more like to result in cuts or splinters.
Those working in storage and logistics should always protect themselves with appropriate safety wear. This includes gloves for handling wooden pallets safely and steel toe caps to prevent foot injuries, in addition to standard warehouse safety protection such as goggles and ear protectors.
Never Use Pallets as a Man Lift
Only use dedicated and engineered lifts to move both people and goods between platforms or floors. A pallet is designed to hold distributed weight and can’t handle the localised weight of an individual.
Use a Forklift
Always use a forklift when necessary to move a pile of pallets. This will avoid manual handling injuries such as repetitive strain injury or back pain as well as reduce the likelihood of goods falling and hurting employees.
Keep Pallets Clean
Keeping pallets clean will improve their safety. Dirty, wet or rotten surfaces can damage the integrity of the pallets and cause sudden breakages, or they could leave unstable surfaces which could cause goods to slip off.
Moving Between Pallets
Avoid walking between pallets, but if it’s necessary always take extra care when moving between stacked pallets to prevent foot, ankle, shin or knee injuries.
Use a Pick Hook
A major aspect of the safe handling of wooden pallets is to employ a pick hook for retrieving goods from the back of the pallet. This prevents workers from standing on pallets, which can be highly hazardous.
Ensure your workforce has the opportunity to work safely with wooden pallets by taking note of these guidelines and also encourage attendance at a pallet safety awareness course.