Pallets are widely used around the world with billions of them in circulation in warehouses and production facilities around the world and like many other items around a warehouse or plant, can be damaged or of substandard quality, posing safety risks to their users. Loading and unloading them can result in injuries due to frequently working in awkward postures through bending, twisting and reaching. Accidents caused by working with pallets can result in severe injuries to the workers; potentially resulting in worker’s absent days and compensation claims. Regardless, it is the duty of every employer to ensure safety of their employees. In this article, we will discuss how to ensure safe access for pallet loading and removal.
- Regular Inspection of pallets: You should make sure that your workers regularly inspect pallets, remove damaged pallets from use, and handle and store them properly. If you mistakenly take in use damaged pallets, they can be a serious hazard, especially on a high shelf with a heavy load.
- Caution while standing on pallets: A worker standing on a pallet can be injured in case the deck board breaks, or if the worker’s foot gets caught between deck boards. Some pallets may be prone to tipping when empty, thus causing the worker to fall. Instruct your workers to be cautious while standing on them.
- Wear safety equipment: Workers should be in protective gear while handling pallets. They should ideally use gloves, as well as metal-toed shoes to help prevent injury if a pallet is dropped on a foot.
- Location of pallets: It is advisable to locate pallets at least a meter from the place the objects are to be loaded or unloaded from the pallet. This way, the operators have to turn and step with the object they are carrying, reducing the likelihood of twisting and reaching movements that can injure their backs. Moreover, do not stand empty pallets on end as they are unstable and likely to tip.
- Restrict the use of pallets to lift people: A pallet should not be used as a man lift as it can be risky. Pallets are designed to hold 2,800 pounds or more, but this is for loads that are uniformly distributed, not for localized loads such as the feet of a worker.
- Lifting pallets manually: Pallets come in varying weights, ranging from 30 pounds to 70 pounds or more without the load. They also have different sizes. While some are easy to lift manually, others are not. Therefore, employees should be instructed to work together to jointly lift the heavy ones, in case they have to lift them manually.
- Maintain the Height of Stacked Pallets: In case the workers are stacking or unstacking pallets manually, keep maximum stack height to no more than 4 feet to facilitate easier pallet handling. Use a forklift if there is a requirement of stacking them to a further height.
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