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Manually moving your product onto pallets can cause unavoidable stress on the body, if you are not careful this can lead to debilitating injuries to shoulders, knees, and lower backs. These injuries can occur suddenly or gradually over time. When a safe work system is in place the risk of an accident or unnecessary wear and tear can be minimised.
Here is how to stay safe when storing, loading, and moving your pallets in the loading dock.  

  • Pallets need to be stacked in flat, stable piles.   
  • A pallet lifter is required when unloading or loading pallets above shoulder height.  
  • Empty pallets should always be stacked vertically, pallets on their side are unstable and can cause injury if they tip over.
  • Stack like with like. The safest way to store pallets of different sizes is to separate them into piles that contain the same pallet’s dimensions and material. For example, stack plastic pallets with plastic pallets; wood pallets with wood pallets, etc.  
  • Ensure stored pallets are maintained and kept in good condition.  

Always secure your load before moving it, many loads will need to be shrink-wrapped or banded to the pallet during transportation.  Only those with an operator license and appropriate training should be using the scissor lift, forklift or hand truck to move pallets.  Make sure you plan your route when moving pallets, ensuring there is a safe path of travel, with no obstacles or trip hazards in the way.  When using a forklift ensure pallets are placed squarely onto the forklift platform and avoid making sharp turns.  

A product first needs to be deemed safe to load, this can be by hand, multiple staff or with the assistance of a mechanical aid. If a load is too heavy for you to lift without assistance, do not attempt to lift it. Ask for a coworker to help you lift or use a hand truck or forklift to transport it for you.  When loading by hand, you should prepare appropriate grip and stance, standing close to the product with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, lower yourself down to the load by bending your knees. Once you have a firm grip on the product, lift with your legs and remember to keep the load close to your body while lifting, preventing unnecessary strain on your back. Ensure you do not twist or jerk suddenly. When loading your pallets the centre of gravity should be in the centre of the pallet, too much product on one side may cause the pallet to tip and fall over.  Never step on a pallet to place a product, instead position it on the pallet and then slide it over to the centre, ensuring the weight is evenly distributed.  For larger loads that require powerful lifting equipment, always check to see that the weight of the load does not exceed the lifting capacity of the equipment.

  • All pallets should be inspected when they are first delivered to your site. Take the time to look around for loose or broken boards, splinters, cracks or protruding nails.  
  • Keep your warehouse clean. Debris on the floor can cause dangerous accidents.  
  • Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). You should have the correct shoes or boots suited for the environment you are working in. Consider eye protection, earmuffs, or leather work gloves if necessary.

It is not enough to just adhere to these safety tips: you need to ensure that all employees receive adequate training and supervision while operating in the loading dock area. Employees who use the load shifting equipment, such as forklifts and powered pallet jacks, or work in the loading dock area should be trained in the safe operation of the machinery and understand the hazards and risks in manual handling.

It is everyone’s responsibility to take care of each other while on site. These pallet safety tips and best practices can help prevent avoidable injuries.











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