Working Safely with Pallets
If you own a contractor or construction company, you probably rely on pallets for a lot of your daily tasks. A pallet is a flat transport structure used to ship products or move materials internally. Pallets are typically made of wood or plastic. At First Alliance, we sell wooden pallets.
Though common, pallets can lead to injuries when they are handled or used improperly. The talk below is designed to help you talk with your employees to make sure that everyone knows the correct protocol for working safely with pallets.
Guidelines for Discussion
Everyone in the workplace is familiar with pallets. We use them every day for shipping, and for rearranging materials within the warehouse and workspace. Pallets are an excellent tool for securely moving heavy loads, but they themselves can actually be harmful when handled incorrectly. In fact, everyone in the workspace can probably recall at least one near-miss or injury as a result of mishandled pallets. Heed these safety precautions to make sure you keep yourself and your coworkers safe while working with pallets:
- Wear gloves when working with wooden pallets, as they protect from splinters and other surface irregularities.
- Wear protective shoes to avoid injuries from dropped or improperly loaded pallets.
- Before lifting a wooden pallet, check the surface for loose or protruding nails. Rusty nails can spread tetanus.
- Remove cracked, weak, and damaged pallets from the workplace so they won’t be used. Place unusable pallets in the company recycling.
- Maintain proper posture when lifting pallets, and use two employees for heavy loads to prevent muscle strains.
- Proper posture is especially important for plastic pallets, as these can weigh over 100 pounds without a load. Remember to lift from a squatting position, rather than craning your back.
- Don’t drop or throw pallets.
- Distribute weight evenly when loading, and don’t exceed the maximum weight. The maximum weight varies for different pallets – check with your supervisor to determine the maximum load for your materials and workplace.
- Always lay pallets flat, and do not stack them higher than 4 feet.
- Always use a forklift when stacking more than 7 or 8 pallets high.
- Do not walk over or on top of pallets: stepping on a weak board or a protruding nail could result in injury.
- Do not stand pallets on their sides – always lay them flat. Otherwise, the pallet can fall on a nearby coworker or crush surrounding materials.
- Immediately pick up and recycle any broken pallet pieces to prevent accidents.
- Make sure pallets don’t impede access to important areas such as entrances, doorways, emergency exits, fire extinguishers, and emergency equipment.
And remember – if you notice a coworker doing something unsafe with a pallet, say something! Your voice could prevent a painful injury, months of recovery, and damaged materials.