Safety is priority number one in any good warehouse. Even tasks that seem relatively simple, such as moving pallets, could be dangerous if done incorrectly. Moving big loads of pallets around on pallet racks can be dangerous if your team isn’t following strict safety guidelines, and pallets themselves can pose a lot of risks for those who work around them every day. Make sure your teams are following safety guidelines every time they interact with pallets and retrain them often on pallet safety.
Tips for Safely Interacting with Pallets in Your Warehouse
- Guard against splinters and nails. Pallets are made from inexpensive wood and aren’t meant to last forever. Make sure you wear gloves and avoid walking on pallets to keep splinters and nails out of your hands and feet.
- Don’t throw pallets. Not only will this damage the pallet and shorten its lifespan, it can create debris which can harm fellow coworkers. Instead, slide the pallet or use a forklift to create stacks.
- Inspect pallets before use. If a pallet is damaged, don’t try to use it–send it for recycling. Only sturdy pallets should be used on your pallet rack. Take extra precautions with pallets that will be going high up on your pallet rack.
- Don’t stand on pallets. Sure, pallets are designs to handle heavy loads of merchandise, but they are only designed to do it when the weight is evenly distributed across the surface of the pallet. When you stand on them, you are putting all of your weight on a localized area of the pallet and risk damaging the pallet and hurting yourself if it breaks.
- Store pallets flat, not on their end. This can weaken the structure of the pallet and increase the risk that they’ll break when you load them with inventory. Storing them on their end also puts them at risk of tipping over and hurting someone. Don’t stack pallets more than four feet high, though.
- Clean up any splinters or broken wood from pallets often. It’s inevitable that the occasional pallet is going to break in your warehouse. When this happens, clean up any debris from the broken pallet as soon as possible. That debris could cause slips, trips, falls, or even embed itself in a worker’s leg or foot.
- Use warehouse equipment like forklifts and pallet jacks to move pallets whenever you can. While it might seem faster to lift and move a pallet with your hands, you actually increase the risk of injury and damage to the pallet. Allowing machinery to do the heavy lifting for you and keep yourself and your fellow workers safe.
- Clean your pallets once in a while, too, especially if you are handling perishable or consumable items. The wood of a pallet can be a harboring place for bacteria and germs. If you commonly handle food items, you might want to consider using plastic pallets. They may be a bigger investment up front, but they will last longer and be easier to disinfect.
- Know the load capacity of your pallets and don’t go over it. It’s important to know the weight of your inventory, not only for pallet loading, but for loading your pallet racks as well.
When Should You Replace Pallets?
Pallets aren’t made to last forever. In fact, they have a fairly limited lifespan. This is, in part, what makes them so affordable. They are constructed out of inexpensive and untreated wood that will stand up to a good deal of weight but can splinter and crack relatively easily, especially as it gets older. Eventually, you are going to need to replace your pallets. Here are signs that it’s time to find a replacement.
Looking old doesn’t mean it’s not safe for use.
Most pallets are made of untreated wood. That means the wood that’s used is going to look older long before it’s treated counterparts. Don’t assume that just because the wood is gray or discolored that the pallet is too old for use. It may be much, much newer than you think.
Look for damage, splinters, and cracks.
The best method to determine whether or not a pallet is suitable for use is simply by examining it. Make it a practice to examine every pallet when you unload it to determine whether or not it’s going to be suitable for use again. Look for cracks in the wood, signs of distress around the joints, and chipped or splintered wood. If you spot any of these signs, it’s probably best to send that pallet off for recycling. After all, one of the great things about pallets is that they are cheap; you can replace them without worrying too much about the cost.
What Are Your Tips for Pallet Safety?
Do you have safety tips and guidelines that you utilize in your warehouse when it comes to pallets? We’d love to hear them! Comment on this blog or drop us an email through our website. We may use your safety tip in a future blog!
Use common sense when working with pallets and pallet racks and your team should enjoy a safe work environment. DAK Equipment understands that our pallet racks play an important role in warehouse safety, too. That’s why we offer high-quality pallet racks to Chicago-area businesses and beyond. Our pallet racks are made from top materials, and if you experience any damage, our team can come do the repair work for you. Give DAK Equipment a call today to learn more about our pallet racks installation and repair services.