Depending on how many pallet deliveries you handle per week, there will be a need to store empty pallets in a safe and secure way when they are not used. There are certain regulations that need to be followed both for stacking safety and for fire hazards. Stacking pallets should never be a heavy and high-stakes jenga puzzle, all stacks should be properly organised as to avoid accidents and inventory damage.
Always stack pallets horizontally and never vertically. It’s not uncommon to see pallets stacked vertically in the space between horizontal stacks. This can be incredibly dangerous as those standing on their sides can fall down and severely injure personnel. Imagine 55 pounds of wood falling on top of you, with possible splinters and protruding nails – not what you want even on the best of days.
For free-standing storage, it’s recommended that the pallets are stacked no higher than 15 feet, but even that may be too high if it’s in a busy area of the workplace. Each pallet is between 5–7 inches in height, so a stack of 20-25 pallets can weigh up to 1,375 pounds. However, if you handle the pallets manually a six-foot stack maximum is more manageable. Many insurance guidelines state that any stack over six feet needs to have automatic sprinkler coverage in case of a fire.
Always stack pallets uniformly, with the same size and type in each stack. Also make sure that they are not crooked; they should be stored neatly as to avoid stacks falling over. Take the condition into account at the same time, group the pallets according to their overall quality, and get rid of (or repair) any with broken boards or protruding nails. As with a chain, it’s the weakest link that breaks first, and a broken pallet can cause an entire stack to fall. You can use frames or racks to stabilise the stacks for extra safety if necessary.
Pallet stacks should have a spacing between them of at least 8 feet, and should not be located within 25 feet of general inventory. This is to avoid a domino effect, and to minimise fire hazards.
As with anything regarding workplace safety, make sure you are fully aware of company and/or industry guidelines and regulations and, if in doubt, consult your safety officer.