Warehouse Storage

Posted by Melissa Hall in #YHSafetyTips, Apr 17, 2019

Over 600,000 employees work in over 17,000 warehouses across the United States, making warehouse safety a top priority. The fatal injury rate for the warehousing industry is higher than the national average of all other injuries, with a number of safety concerns in a warehouse environment including the improper use of forklifts and stacking products incorrectly.

OSHA has outlined guidelines for proper warehouse storage and stacking in their Worker Safety Series -Warehousing and Materials Handling and Storage publications.

Potential Stacking Hazards and Solutions
When materials are stacked improperly, whether by stacking materials too high or placing them in an unstable configuration, you run the risk of materials collapsing off the shelves when you remove a pallet or item from the stack. The following stacking methods are recommended to ensure your materials are stacked securely.

  • Irregular Stacking — For improved stability, add sheets of plywood between each layer of irregularly shaped items.
  • Brick Stacking — Turn each level of a stack 90 degrees to increase stability.
  • Block Stacking — Stack square items in a cube and make sure to secure them with wire or plastic shrink wrap.
  • Pinwheel Stacking — Turn each quadrant of items 90 degrees. This helps lock everything in place.

OSHA Guidelines for Safe Stacking Procedures

  • Stack loads as straight and evenly as possible with heavier loads on lower shelves
  • Keep storage areas free from accumulation of materials that could lead to tripping, fire, explosion, or pest infestations
  • Ensure that personnel use proper lifting techniques
  • Maintain appropriately marked and safe clearances for aisles and at loading docks where mechanical handling equipment is used
  • Stack lumber no more than 16 feet high if handled manually and no more than 20 feet if using a forklift
  • Remove all nails from used lumber before stacking
  • Stack and level lumber on solidly supported bracing and ensure that stacks are stable and self-supporting
  • Do not store pipes and bars in racks that face main aisles to avoid creating a hazard to passersby when removing supplies
  • Stack bags and bundles in interlocking rows to keep them secure and stack bagged material by stepping back the layers and crossing the bags at least every ten layers. When removing bags from the stack, start from the top row first.
  • During materials stacking activities, workers must:
    1. Store baled paper and rags inside a building no closer than 18 inches to the walls, partitions, or sprinkler heads
    2. Band boxed materials or secure them with cross-ties or shrink plastic fiber
    3. Stack drums, barrels, and kegs symmetrically
    4. Block the bottom tiers of drums, barrels, and kegs to keep them from rolling if stored on their sides
    5. Place planks, sheets of plywood dunnage, or pallets between each tier of drums, barrels, and kegs to make a firm, flat, stacking surface when stacking on end
    6. Chock the bottom tier of drums, barrels, and kegs on each side to prevent shifting in either direction when stacking two or more tiers high
    7. Stack and block poles as well as structural steel, bar stock, and other cylindrical materials to prevent spreading or tilting unless they are in racks
    8. Stack loose bricks no more than 7 feet in height. When these stacks reach a height of 4 feet, taper them back 2 inches for every foot of height above the 4-foot level. When masonry blocks are stacked higher than 6 feet, taper the stacks back one-half block for each tier above the one foot level.

    By following safe stacking and storage procedures, you can cut down on the amount of injuries and accidents in your warehouse, and ensure your employees are safe on the job.

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