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Stacking Pallets: OSHA Regulations

Stacking empty pallets saves space and removes tripping and collision hazards from warehouse floors. But if you stack pallets carelessly or overly high, warehouse managers could be creating an even bigger hazard. To figure out the best practices for pallet stacking, let’s take a look at what OSHA and other regulators have to say. OSHA addresses pallet stacking in standard 1917.14, which reads, “Cargo, pallets and other material stored in tiers shall be stacked in such a manner as to provide stability against sliding and collapse.” That sounds reasonable. But the question now becomes, “How do you stabilize a stack of pallets?” Stabilizing Pallet Stacks for Optimal Safety Never mix sizes when stacking pallets. An odd-sized pallet near the bottom…more

How Pallets Changed the Global Logistics Industry

In a very real way, the simple wooden pallet was the spark that ignited the entire global economy as we know it. Before the advent of pallets during World War II, shipments consisted of awkward piles of boxes, barrels, canisters, and loose product. Warehouse staff would pack trucks any way they could. The process was inefficient in terms of both time and space. Then came the pallet, which co-evolved with the gas-powered lift truck. With forklifts and pallets, material handling efficiency entered the modern era. Wooden pallets are simple structures, but they accomplish incredible things — things that allow supply chains to function smoothly in this age of global logistics and long-distance retail. Here are four key innovations that pallets…more

Warehousing Pallet Options: What to Know

Material handling continues to evolve as new technologies emerge, but the humble pallet remains a constant fixture in warehouses around the world. That’s not to say that pallets haven’t changed over the years. Due to specific industry needs and the desire to be sustainable, companies have developed a number of new strategies in regards to pallets, which standardized just about everything into easy-to-handle parcels. While Ancient Egyptians used skids as far back as 1,000 B.C., modern paletts came into existence as a result of the gas-powered forklift and Word War II. The U.S. used tens of millions of pallets to supply troops on both fronts. Innovations like the four-way pallet, which allowed forklifts to pick up pallets from any direction,…more

Ergonomics and Pallet Building: Problems and Solutions

Rising worker’s compensation claims and an aging workforce responsible for pallet building tasks are causing warehouse managers to rethink their processes. Add in the fact that industry experts project the use of pallets to increase through 2019, and you can see why it’s necessary to reevaluate the pallet building and unloading process. Even if warehouse managers didn’t care about productivity and preventing injuries to their staff, which is an unlikely proposition, insurance companies are insisting that clients implement ergonomic solutions in warehouses to reduce payouts for injured staff. Worker’s Comp Cases Strain Insurers’ Pocketbooks The issue is complex, but it boils down to this: Material handlers are older and in worse shape than they have been in the past, and…more

Measuring Electrical Conduit Sizes at the Job Site

For electricians, pulling cable is only half the job. Before they can even begin installing the cabling, they have to create vast networks of electrical conduit. Electricians typically run multiple cables through a single raceway, so it’s vital that they know how much space is available inside the duct. That isn’t always apparent at a glance. The trade sizes of rigid metal electrical conduit don’t always correspond exactly to actual inside diameter. Even worse, bundles of conduit can arrive on-site unlabeled, and it isn’t easy to tell the difference between 1.25- and 1.5-inch conduit with the naked eye. For instance, according to online resource the Engineering ToolBox: 5-inch metal conduit actually has an inside diameter of 0.622 inches. The inside…more

Forklift Work Platforms and OSHA Compliance

There’s an inherent risk in elevating staff using a forklift work platform. Given that risk, it’s no surprise that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has quite a bit to say on the matter. In fact, at one point the federal agency even discussed banning the use of forklifts as a support for work platforms. After a lengthy discussion, OSHA decided that, if used properly, the practice could be safe enough to allow. However, they created a list of standards for the use of elevated personnel platforms. Here’s a summary of some of the most important requirements from those standards. Never move a forklift horizontally while a worker is elevated. This is expressly forbidden by OSHA 451(c)(2)(v) and something that…more

Material Storage and Handling for Bagged and Bundled Components

Working with bagged or bundled components requires unique precautions to protect against injuries. Shifting weight and awkward dimensions are two of the many tricky variables associated with these materials. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a helpful publication that addresses many of the common pitfalls of material handling. From a thorough reading of this document, we can recommend a number of steps to follow when handling bagged or bundled materials. Moving Bagged or Bundled Components With a Forklift Always keep the load centered on the forks as close to the mast as possible. This minimizes both the chance of the load falling off and the forklift tipping. Cross-tier stacked loads to promote stability. Do not add weight to the…more

Safe Material Handling and Storage for Marble, Granite, and Stone Slabs

Construction materials are often heavy and irregularly shaped, leading to considerable material handling challenges. In any facility that houses building materials, though, slabs of marble, granite, and stone may be the toughest items to store and transport. These unique materials require specialized equipment and proper training to keep staff safe. Luckily, experts at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have put together a comprehensive Safety and Health Information Bulletin that addresses this issue head-on. Here are the most important takeaways from that publication, along with a few other tips we’ve learned along the way: Choose Storage Racks That Are Designed for Heavy Sheet Materials Perhaps the most dangerous thing about stone building materials is that they’re incredibly heavy. Larger units…more

Improve Material Storage Safety in Industrial Settings

“Material storage” is a simple term for a pretty complex topic. If all the materials that workers in factories, warehouses, and construction sites use fit onto pallets, everything would be much simpler. Here in the real world, though, industrial staff have to learn how to handle and store cylinders, drums, heavy bags, bundles, tubes, and just about any other configuration of matter you can think of. Handling these materials is hard enough. Storing them comes with a whole new set of challenges. Luckily, experts have studied the issue of storing materials that can’t be simply built onto a pallet. Here are a few tips from OSHA and other material handling specialists about how to improve safety while storing common industrial…more

Industrial Racks for Landscaping Materials: The Ergonomic Benefits

Landscaping is a growing field, and that’s not just a grass pun. In 2016, the IBIS World Market Report listed an annual growth of 3.9 percent for the landscape services industry. Landscaping already employed nearly 1 million people in the U.S. that year; it wouldn’t be surprising if we surpassed the 1 million mark in 2017. That’s a lot of people to teach about proper material handling techniques. You can’t automate the building of a retaining wall, so manual material handling is just part of the landscaping job for the foreseeable future. If we’re not careful about education, a lot of people may end up with strains, sprains, and bad backs this summer. It may seem strange, but one of…more