It is common practice in warehouses to stack empty pallets in attempt to increase floor space and remove potential hazards. However, if not carefully monitored, stacked pallets and/or product can cause more hazards than prevent them.
OSHA Regulations has a lot to say about pallet stacking. OSHA Standard 1917.14 reads that “pallets and other material stored in tiers shall be stacked in such a manner as to provide stability against sliding and collapse.”
There are three general types of load capacity definitions you should be familiar with.
1. Dynamic Load Capacity
The word “dynamic” indicates activity or motion. Not surprising, dynamic load capacity refers to the weight placed on a pallet, evenly distributed, and then moved. For example, if a pallet has a dynamic load of 1500lbs, the pallet be able to hold that weight and then be successfully moved from one location to another. Dynamic load capacity does not include the use of conveyors unless they lift the pallet upwards.
2. Static Load Capacity
Static loads refer to the maximum weight a pallet can hold when in a fixed or “at rest” position. Wooden pallets stacked one on top of another – the bottom pallet carrying the weight of the other pallets – therefore is an example of a static load. A few things to remember regarding static loads include:
- The total load is based on the total weight that the pallet supports.
- It is not uncommon for the load capacity to be higher than the dynamic load capacity.
- Always review loads for evenly distributed weight. If the weight of the product on a pallet is askew, it can result in distortion, otherwise known as “creep deflection.”
Safe Stacking Height Guidelines
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.
- As a general rule, the height of the load should not exceed the longest base dimension of the pallet.
- Review the information from the pallet manufacturer
- Check stacks periodically. Stability changes based on the type and shape of the load as well as the environmental factors, such as humidity and/or temperature.
3. Racking Load Capacity
A racking load refers to the maximum amount of weight a pallet can carry without a structure at its center or under it to support it (as on a racking system). Unfortunately, rack loads aren’t just simple weight vs. structure. The dimensions, shape, and size/density of the load as it sits on storage racks is absolutely critical to safe, effective warehouse storage. Rack systems vary based on the requirements of the facility, and therefore the racking load capacity also varies. Just to be safe, the weight of the actual load should always be kept lower than the recommended racking load capacity.
Just as we discussed for static load capacity, it is very important that workers monitor the racking load numbers, and never exceed the recommended limits. Exceeding pallet load capacity ratings can cause the pallet to fail and break, potentially creating seriously undesirable consequences such as
- employee safety hazards
- equipment and product damage
- decreased productivity
In addition to closely monitoring the amount of weight placed on these racking systems, it is important that the load capacity remains evenly distributed. Using additional packaging products help to keep loads intact – especially throughout transportation. Remember to establish a routine to check and double check for pallet damage. Doing so promotes safe working conditions and transportation of products.
Load capacity is an important part of safety and damage prevention. If your company is struggling with either, then it’s time to talk. Let’s get started, or give us a call at 877-410-5564 for a quick chat about your packaging goals and how we can help meet them.