There are a lot of potential safety risks and dangers that can easily arise when working in a warehouse or distribution center, especially if certain storage protocols aren’t properly followed.
Warehouse management is responsible for the safe and efficient operations of their facilities. That’s why they have to make sure that all personnel are properly trained and extremely well-versed when it comes to warehouse storage solutions, safety protocols, and working with pallets to prevent injuries on the job.
Handling empty pallets takes a bit of skill and expertise. Certain workplace safety initiatives like the ones outlined in this article can help improve your operational efficiency and employee safety standards while also minimizing the risk of injury in your warehouse facility.
Practice These Guidelines for Empty Pallet Storage
In addition to taking up a lot of space that could be used for storing actual inventory, empty pallets can also clutter up your warehouse and make for unsafe working conditions for your employees. Warehouses and distribution centers are often very fast-paced work environments with a lot of moving machinery and personnel. Workers need to be able to quickly maneuver through certain areas while moving inventory around from one place to another.
Warehouse maintenance experts in Toronto recommend adhering to the following practices when it comes to handling empty pallets in your facility.
Avoid Side-Stacking Pallets
Stacking pallets on their sides may seem like it saves more space than stacking them on top of one another, but that’s not exactly the case. Vertically stacked pallets take up just as much space as horizontally stacked pallets. The main difference is that vertically stacked pallets are a lot more dangerous and have a higher risk of toppling over and accidentally falling on someone’s foot or crushing someone.
Horizontally stacking pallets in a dead space or low traffic area of your warehouse is a much better idea.
Don’t Stack the Pallets Too High
To further build on that point (pun intended), avoid stacking the pallets too high as this can also increase the risk of them toppling them over and injuring someone. The OHSA standards are very clear on this in stating that “cargo, pallets, and other material stored in tiers shall be stacked in such a manner as to provide stability against sliding and collapses”.
There are several factors that should be considered when handling empty racks and the appropriate way to stack them. Choose a low traffic area to store extra pallets that aren’t being used at the moment. Stack the pallets in perfect alignment and organize them by shape, size, and specific dimensions so that matching racks can be stacked together.
Lastly, try to stack them against a sturdy wall to increase their stability and reduce the risk of the racks falling over. As a general rule of thumb, pallets shouldn’t be stacked any higher than about six feet high. This makes it easier to manually maneuver pallets as needed.
Only Stack Same Size Pallets Together in Uniform Alignment
Keeping your empty pallets well organized and stacked in uniform alignment may take a lot of work at first, but the payoff is worthwhile. You’ll end up with a well-organized pallet racking system that not only improves warehouse safety and functionality, but also makes it easier to retrieve pallets of certain sizes and dimensions quickly whenever you need them.
Pallets that are haphazardly stacked, misaligned, or too high up can very easily topple over due to lack of structural stability and fall apart. If you have a large amount of excess empty pallets that are still in good condition, you can install a vertical cube to keep them organized and occupy as little floor space as possible in the process.
Don’t Keep or Reuse Damaged Pallets
Damaged pallets are of no use to you whatsoever. All they do is increase unsafe working conditions, reduce productivity, and make it harder for warehouse workers to complete their daily tasks. Plus, they go against a wide range of official safety standards that could put your entire operation at risk. In the event of an injury or incident related to a damaged pallet, your insurance premiums could increase exponentially. On top of that, workers who suffer an injury due to a damaged pallet can sue you for workers’ compensation.
Always Clean Up Pallet Debris
Working with pallets and constantly moving them around from place to place means that it’s inevitable for pieces of wood or even loose nails to fall out of them on occasion. However, it’s important to clean up pieces of pallet debris as soon as you notice them to prevent injuries caused by a slip-and-fall, tripping, or stepping on a rogue nail.
Debris left on the ground doesn’t just hurt workers; it can also damage or deflate the wheels of material handling equipment that drive over them. Furthermore, pieces of wood and nails that become lodged inside material handling equipment can cause serious and costly damages to your machinery.
Make Good Use of Mechanical Equipment
Mechanical material handling equipment such as pallet dispensers and forklifts make it easier to quickly and easily retrieve and move multiple stored empty pallet racks. This reduces the risk of injury and physical strain on warehouse workers while also maximizing movement efficiency and ensuring totally safe operations at all times.
Use Personal Protective Equipment when Handling Empty Pallets
In addition to offering in-depth equipment and pallet handling safety training, warehouses should also provide workers with personal protective equipment. PPE in warehouses typically consists of gloves, safety shoes, hearing protective headphones, and helmets or hard hats to prevent injuries. Employees should be properly trained on how to operate this safety equipment and wear it at all times while on the job.
Warehouse Maintenance in Toronto
Canadian Rack Technologies Inc. is one of the leading distributors of state-of-the-art, durable, and stable warehouse racking equipment near the GTA and around Ontario. We provide both new and used warehouse storage solutions that have undergone rigorous safety testing and measures. All of our recommendations are custom-tailored to the exact specifications of your warehouse. Contact us today to learn more.