5 Material Handling Tips When Loading and Unloading Pallets

Does your job involve loading and unloading pallets? Also known as skids, pallets are commonly used to transport inventory, materials and other objects. They are platforms consisting of multiple wooden planks.

Loading and unloading pallets, of course, is laborious. It can increase the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 30% of all work-related injuries and illnesses are attributed to MSDs. Below are five material handling tips to follow when loading and unloading pallets.

#1) Use a Lifting Device to Raise Pallets

Before loading or unloading a pallet, use a lifting device to raise it. Lifting devices are designed to lift flat objects, such as pallets. They typically leverage pneumatics or hydraulics. After placing a pallet on a pallet lift, you can raise it to an appropriate height where you can easily load or unload it.

#2) Use a Pallet Jack to Move Pallets

If you need to move a pallet, on the other hand, you should use a pallet jack. Pallet jacks are tools that are used to jack up and move pallets. They feature a pair of prongs and a vertical handle. You can slide the prongs under a pallet, after which you can pump the handle. Pumping the handle will jack up the pallet, after which you can roll it with the pallet jack.

#3) Avoid Bending Your Back

Whether you are loading or unloading a pallet, try to avoid bending your back. Millions of workers suffer from back pain. Some studies show that one out of four workers on average experience back pain. Bending your back will only increase your risk of back pain. If you need to access a pallet, consider raising it with a lifting device. Alternatively, you can lower your body by bending your knees rather than your back.

#4) Use Safety Skirts

What are safety skirts exactly, and why should you use them when loading and unloading pallets? Safety skirts are protective shields or guarding equipment. They are used in conjunction with lifting devices. You can place safety skirts around lifting devices to create a barrier.

#5) Follow Load Limits

You should follow the load limits of all equipment when loading and unloading pallets. Pallet jackets, for instance, have a load limit, and lifting devices typically have a load limit as well. The load limit represents the maximum amount of weight they can safely support.