Posted on: 16 January 2017
If you want to reduce injuries in your warehouse, you need to make sure that your pallets are dealt with safely. Unfortunately, big stacks of pallets or even improper shelving can result in pallets falling and hitting workers below. To reduce this risk, consider using the following tips:
1. Use Professionally Designed Pallet Racks
If you only use pallets once in awhile, you can stack them in the corner or lean them against the wall. However, if you have lots of pallets, you need more effective organizational tools or you will end up wasting space. Additionally, once a stack of pallets gets higher than your average worker, you risk the stack falling and potentially causing injuries.
Professional warehouse pallet racks are designed to optimize space while also ensuring safety. Ideally, you want racks that lock in the pallets. These racks feature rails that hold the pallets in place. In order to move the pallet, you actually need to lift it up over the rails. This prevents the pallets from falling off the rack.
Additionally, professional pallet racks are anchored to the walls, and they are designed to hold the weight of lots of pallets. If you build your own shelves or repurpose generic shelves for pallets, you don't have this same assurance of safety and stability.
2. Space Your Pallets Carefully
In addition to investing in professional warehouse racking, you also need to ensure that you load the racks correctly. In particular, pay attention to the lateral spacing of your pallets. Ideally, you want to leave enough room between each stack of pallets so that your forklift arms can get easily into the area.
If you don't leave enough space, you increase the chances that the forklift's tines may bump other pallets as you are trying to pick one up. The bumped pallet may then fall off the racking, potentially hitting the driver or other workers. Even if the pallet doesn't cause an injury, it may fall to the ground and break. That can get costly as well.
3. Use a Forklift
For safety, you should always use a forklift when putting pallets onto or off of high shelves. You can set pallets on low shelves by hand without too much risk. However, reaching for them on tall shelves can be dangerous. If you're on a ladder, the danger is especially pronounced — lifting the pallet may throw you off balance and cause the ladder to fall.
4. Focus on Safety Training
All of the employees who use forklifts in your warehouse should have the right level of training. If possible, consider going above and beyond the legally mandated level of training, and require your employees to get extra safety training.
From a safety perspective, your warehouse employees should know how to use the forklift and how to shut it off in case of an emergency. They should also be vigilant about checking their environment for safety issues. In particular, they should check that the aisles are clear, that they have ample lighting, and that no other employees are in the way.
5. Replace Crumbling, Old Pallets
As your pallets age, they may start falling apart or becoming weaker. This natural aging process can also be a risk. If pallets are breaking, they won't stack together as well. They also may not be able to sit correctly on your pallet racking.
That can lead to pallets becoming unstable and falling off of shelves. To avoid this risk, replace your old pallets with new ones as needed.
For more safety tips on using pallets, contact a professional pallet racking company like Certified Handling Systems. They can help you figure out the best storage solutions and safety processes for your warehouse.