PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) covers the safety of work equipment involving pallets and the use of them. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 is also applicable. These regulations cover the hazards and risks of using pallets in the work place. Pallets consist of a flat platform that are used with forklift trucks or other transportation means. They are used to transport goods between distances and to stack at height.
Incorrect use of pallets and falling pallets can cause many accidents in warehouses and storage facilities. Different pallets need to be used for different loads. For example, pallets used for carrying boxes of pens will be different from pallets needed for carrying heavy electrical equipment. Considerations should be given to the pallet load, i.e will it be liquid, solid or powder. Considerations should be given to the type of restraints used, pallet stacking, the pallet climate (i.e. in a cold warehouse or a hot house) and what the pallet is made out of. Pallets can be moved in different ways, i.e by forklift, cranes, automated equipment and bar slings – these all need to be risk assessed. Pallets need to be properly maintained. Re-usable pallets should be marked as such. Pallets should not be dragged along the ground as this can result in fraying and fatigue cracks. When goods are unloaded from one level to another, and there is a risk of injury, so forklift operators should be protected.
Pallets can be made out of different materials, i.e. wood, plastic, pressed wood, corrugated cardboard, and metal. Wooden pallets should be fastened at each end with two or more nails. The wood should not be rotting or fraying apart. Plastic pallets can be susceptible to brittle fracture in cold environments. They should be checked so that they are not distorted by heat or cold temperatures or chemical environments. Pressed wood and corrugated cardboard pallets should not have signs of water retention or flaking. Metal pallets should not be corroded or damaged in any way.
Pallets handled by a crane should only be fitted by a suitable attachment. Forklift operators should ensure that the forks are spaced so that maximum support is given to the pallet. Both pedestrians and moving vehicles (i.e forklifts) in a warehouse need to be able to move freely. Warehouses should be designed to reduce the risks from reversing vehicles and driveways should be clear. General health and safety should be clearly communicated for all in these kinds of work environments.
Forklifts out of control!!!