In warehouses and storage facilities, stacking loaded pallets correctly is crucial to preventing accidents. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Standards (OSHA) guidelines, materials should be stacked, blocked, interlocked, and limited in height to secure them against sliding or collapsing. The storage of the materials should not create a hazard as well. Poorly stacked loaded pallets pose a serious risk to employee safety and increase the chances of warehouse injuries.
When stacking loaded pallets, pallet load stability is important to ensure minimal product damage. During handling and transportation, loosely wrapped pallets with an uneven weight distribution can cause products to shift. Stacking such pallets can make the entire load topple over, causing significant product damage and increasing the total cost of business (TCOB). Hence, it is critical for businesses to train their warehouse employees in proper techniques for loading pallets and creating a stable stack of loaded pallets.
Considerations for Stacking Loaded Pallets
A loaded pallet can become unstable for several reasons, including exceeding pallet weight limits, uneven weight distribution, being unwrapped or improperly wrapped, or not fully utilizing pallet space. Even a single unstable pallet can bring down a whole stack and cause expensive damage to products as well as machinery. Stacking each pallet properly is the key to creating a stable stack of loaded pallets in storage and warehouses. Following are a few considerations to keep in mind while stacking loaded pallets:
- Keep the heaviest pallet at the bottom: While loading pallets, the heaviest products should go on the bottom of the pallet. The heaviest pallet, in turn, should be at the base of a stack in order to support the weight of several loaded pallets at once. The heaviest pallet lowers the center of gravity for the entire stack and offers a stable base.
- Use a pallet storage method: In warehouses and storage facilities, pallet storage methods play an important role in optimizing vertical and floor space. In the commonly used block-stacking method, in which loaded pallets are stacked on top of each other without using any specialized equipment, pallets must be in good condition, otherwise the entire stack can become dangerously unstable. To increase the stability of loaded pallet stacks, the double-stacking method can be used, in which lifting aids such as stabilizers or bars are placed between the pallets to create more stability within each stack.
- Stack pallets evenly: Product items sticking out or overhanging at the edges of a loaded pallet can pose a safety hazard. Such pallets can cause a stack of loaded pallets to tip over. As a result, when block stacking loaded pallets, it’s crucial to ensure that pallets are evenly stacked and that no products extend past the edges of the pallet.
- Follow a stacking pattern: Pallets are usually stacked with products in either a columnar-aligned pattern or interlocked stacking pattern. When products on a pallet are stacked in a columnar manner, product cartons are simply placed one over another until the prescribed stack height is reached. Pallets stacked this way have greater compressive strength and, as a result, are a better choice for pallets that will be stacked on top of each other. Regardless of the stacking pattern, pallets should be strapped or stretch-wrapped to prevent the load from shifting.
- Inspect the condition of pallets: Though a routine inspection of pallets before loading and after unloading is usual across warehouses, reused wood pallets should be inspected with particular care. The presence of any protruding nails or splinters on the surface of these pallets can puncture the plastic wrap that binds the entire load together, causing the load to shift and the stack to become unstable. Warped or broken deck boards can also cause instability in the pallet load.
In addition to these considerations, the type of pallet also plays a key role in maintaining the stability of a stack. Wood block pallets, for instance, typically have a static load capacity of 5,500 pounds, yet this capacity decreases as the wood degrades with reuse, making it difficult to determine the actual maximum load capacity of a wood pallet. Loading a worn wood pallet to its maximum load capacity might cause it to collapse under the weight of the products. Switching to plastic pallets can help address this persistent problem across warehouses.
Using Plastic Pallets to Create a Stable Stack of Loaded Pallets
When it comes to creating a stable stack of loaded pallets, plastic pallets have a few major advantages over conventional wood pallets:
- Accurate maximum load capacity A high-quality plastic pallet has a maximum static load capacity of 30,000 pounds. This maximum weight is stable and does not change over time. This accuracy makes it possible to load pallets up to their maximum capacity with less danger of pallet damage or failure.
- Unmatched durability: The non-absorbent plastic surface prevents moisture accumulation, rot, or mold and increases the lifespan of a plastic pallet. The unmatched durability of the plastic pallet provides an accurate maximum edge-rackable load of 2,800 pounds.
- Consistent size: The uniform dimensions of a plastic pallet and the absence of any splinters or nails on the surface, make it easy to stack loaded pallets in an even and stable formation. The consistent size of plastic pallets also helps warehouse employees to plan load patterns.
The durability and light weight of plastic pallets make them easy and safe to stack, reducing the risk of injuries to employees, machinery wear-and-tear, and expensive product damage. For businesses, switching from wood pallets to high-quality plastic pallets means reducing the overall cost of business and increasing profit margins and worker safety.
iGPS plastic pallets provide enhanced stability while stacking loaded pallets. To learn more about how our pallets can help decrease product damage and increase warehouse safety, give our team a call at 1-800-884-0225, email a specialist at [email protected], or visit our contact page.