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As much as we love them, you don’t need us to tell you how useful pallet racking can be.

Pallet racks are the ideal way to store items of nearly any size in a warehouse, no matter how frequently – or infrequently – you need to access them.

Accessing the items on your racks, however, is a different matter. Sure, that’s usually where powered equipment like forklifts comes in – but what if you don’t have access to those? What if your old reliable forklift has decided to suddenly take a sick day, and you’ve got orders pouring in?

It’s always good to have a backup plan, but the tricky part with pallet racks is that you need to be as safe as possible when retrieving items from them. Here’s a few of our favorite tips for safely picking items off pallet racks without the use of powered equipment when able:

 

Safely Picking Items from Pallet Racks

 

Never reach overhead

The first rule can’t be stated enough – if you have to reach over your head to grab it, don’t grab it. The vast majority of pallet rack injuries come from reaching for items that shouldn’t be reached for, and by avoiding those heights you can keep your team as safe as possible.

 

Use jacks or dollies when able

Ideally, the heaviest items you store should be kept safely on the floor, or the lowest rack of your pallet shelving. When these items need to be moved, it’s helpful to keep some manual pallet dollies or pallet jacks around to help them move, even if your powered equipment isn’t up to the task right now. (Besides, having redundancies in case of an emergency never hurt anyone, did it?)

 

Keep your shelves mobile

Moving the items on your pallet rack is the most important function of a warehouse – but, in many cases, getting the shelves themselves to move is even more helpful. By installing things like gravity conveyors and gravity flow pallet tracks to help move packages, you can take the strain off your team and keep things moving even when your powered jacks and lifts are out of the question.

 

Make sure items are properly sized before placing them on the rack

While this isn’t always an option, for warehouses that assemble their own pallets, keeping them small can go a long way towards keeping them mobile. When assembling your pallets, focus on keeping the heaviest items in the largest pallets (since those won’t be moved without assistance anyway), and keep the rest of the pallets small enough to be picked up and placed on a trolley as needed. It might mean you need to keep more pallets on your shelves overall, but this can do a lot to reduce the risk of injury and keep your team productive.

 

Never climb the racks!

It sounds like First Day of Warehousing 101, but we can’t stress this enough: no matter how small the item is, nobody should ever climb the racks to get anything. Even on a dare.

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