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Pallets – Are they creating a hazard in your business? Five Tips for Pallet Management

- February 24, 2016 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

Pallets are part of almost every business – they help us get product and supplies from one place to another quickly.  Unfortunately, poor pallet management can lead to injuries due to trips and falls, awkward postures, and sharp edges.  They can also lead to severe fires. Pallet management considerations are:

Pallet storage areas should be designated and enforced.  A designated pallet storage location will prevent pallets from being stored in front of doorways, exit paths, or near equipment and work areas.

Prohibit climbing and standing on pallets. Pallets should never be used in place of a step stool, work platform, or ladder—they’re usually made out of thinner wood that will break if you apply too much force. Seeing them standing upright or stacked high are tempting ladder options, but are not a safe choice!

Set pallet stacking height limits.  Tall stacks can tip over and crush an employee and tall stacks increases fire risk. A fire within a stack of pallet can grow very quickly due to the amount of surface area to burn and air flow within the stack.  Stacking pallets within 18 inches of your building’s sprinkler system can interfere with water flow into the fire.

Remove broken pallets from use.  A broken pallet can crush an employee because it may not support their loads adequately. They may crack under pressure while being moved by a forklift or while in storage. When pallets break, product can fall on a nearby employee.

Create a policy for moving pallets.   Moving pallets by hand can lead to lacerations and strains. Their awkward shape, rough edges, and proximity on the ground make for a hazardous lift.  Employees should primarily move pallets with a forklift or pallet jack.  If pallets are moved by hand, gloves should be worn.

Next time you walk your facility, keep these tips handy while you focus on pallets.

Are they being properly managed or are creating a hazard?