5 Best Practices for Safe Pallet Handling

by Softiex UK Softiex

It's impossible to imagine a future in which pallets wouldn't be essential in manufacturing, warehousing and freight transport. The design and materials of pallets may vary but ensuring that anyone who handles them does so safely is the responsibility of every employer. Some of the advice we offer here may apply chiefly to new wooden pallets but much of it is valid in all circumstances.

1. Follow the Rules

This might seem too obvious to mention, but it's easy to become complacent when using pallets every day. Remember first and foremost what pallets are: large, heavy, solid weight-bearing items that could easily cause injury if mishandled. They should be loaded only when balanced and stable. They should be stored in clearly demarcated areas and never in stacks taller than shoulder height. Don't walk or stand on them because it is easy to injure feet and ankles. If you need to move an empty pallet, avoid doing it on your own as they are heavy and unwieldy. This is particularly true of new wooden pallets but applies also to plastic ones.

2. Use the Right Equipment

There are only two appliances you should use to move pallets around, whether loading and unloading vehicles, moving them across a warehouse or in a loading bay. For loading and unloading, you need to use a forklift that is strong enough to bear the weight of a fully laden pallet. Make sure the load is centred on the two forks and keep them as low to the ground as possible when transporting pallets. There is no shortcut: without the correct forklift, those pallets aren't going anywhere.

Once a pallet is unloaded and needs to be taken to a place where its contents will be broken down for storage or onward distribution, then unless you still have the use of a forklift, the only way to move it safely is with a pallet jack. These are robust and powerful. Nothing else will do.

3. Wear Protective Clothing
The handling of pallets presents some of the biggest risks of injury in warehousing and loading procedures. They are dangerous even when empty, but fully laden they can be fatal. While it's impossible to protect employees from every hazard, certain clothing and equipment can make a significant difference to the dangers. Steel-toed boots should be considered essential, as your feet will be extremely vulnerable at all times. Ideally, gloves should also be worn for the same reason, both in handling full pallets and in breaking down their contents. High-visibility clothing is also advisable because when you are part of a busy team moving quickly around the premises, it is easy for a forklift driver not to notice you, risking injury.

4. Training

Never assume common sense. Many employees may appreciate the risks inherent in handling pallets but this can't be taken for granted and even if they do, they might not realize the extent of those risks. Everyone involved in the handling of pallets should be fully trained in their safe use. That applies not just to forklift drivers and operators of pallet jacks but to all transport and warehouse staff. You should devise a thorough end-to-end course that covers all aspects, even those that might seem obvious. It might also be advisable to enlist the help of a Health and Safety consultant. Once trained, staff will also need someone to supervise their operations to ensure they are observing the rules.

5. Inspections

Keep a close check on the condition of your premises, your equipment and the pallets you use. Everything in regular use can suffer from wear and tear. Make sure your pallets are safe and fit for purpose, with no cracks or loose nails. Service forklifts regularly and keep the pallet jacks in good working order. Also make sure the warehouse floor is kept clear of debris and obstructions so pallets can be moved freely.

Are New Wooden Pallets the Answer?

In a word, no. It is neither financially practical nor environmentally sustainable to use new pallets for every job. Even if it were, many of the risks of injury would still exist. In reality, reused, recycled and plastic ones are likely to make up the majority of your stock. Whatever you are using, do not underestimate the potential dangers and always err on the side of caution for the sake of everyone involved.

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About Softiex UK Innovator   Softiex

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Joined APSense since, September 11th, 2020, From London, United Kingdom.

Created on Apr 18th 2022 05:29. Viewed 137 times.


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