Pallets. We love them—they help us get things done, they keep our items safe…and they’re kind of a pain when they’re not in use.

Even the busiest warehouses find themselves dealing with empty pallets at times, and due to their size and bulk they can be hard to re-house until they’re needed again.

If your pallet racks are finding themselves cluttered up with unused pallets that need to find a home in the meantime, read on:

 

Identify where you’re going to keep them

The first, most immediate step should be to figure out where they’re going. A lot of places recommend storing pallet racks outside, under a tarp or cover as needed, but this might not be a viable option for warehouses that tend to face a lot more inclement weather. If you have the room indoors to stack pallet racks, consider using that space first to minimize the amount of pallets that have to stay outdoors.

If you do wind up keeping them outside, make sure they adhered to federal and local safety guidelines. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends that fewer than 50 pallets can be stored within 20 feet of the building, 50-200 pallets can be safely stored 30 feet or more from the building, and if you have more than 200 pallets they need to be stored a minimum of 50 feet away from the building itself.

 

Look for safety hazards in your storage area

Obviously, this includes the big things like uneven ground, low ceilings or overhangs that can cause further damage, but special attention needs to be paid to wherever your pallets are going to end up. Keep them away from flammables, compressed gasses, or other hazardous substances that wood is particularly sensitive to, keep other commodities a minimum of 25 feet away from your pallets, and if you’re going to be storing your excess pallets on other warehouse racking make sure your sprinkler system is specifically designed for whatever type of shelving you use.

 

Never exceed recommended heights

Free-standing storage is typically a safe method for pallets, but certain limits need to be adhered to in order to keep the pallets and your workers safe. Chief among these is a built-in height limit; make sure that free standing pallet stacks don’t exceed 15 feet in height. Additionally, many building insurance guidelines require stacks over 6 feet to have automatic sprinkler coverage in the event of a fire.

 

Keep good form

While stacking pallets, make sure to keep everything neat, tidy, and well-organized to prevent accidents. Limit each stack to the same type, size, and shape of pallet (including what material it’s made from, ie plastic vs wood) to keep everything uniform and prevent spills. While sorting them, make sure to further divide the racks by quality, keeping an eye out for breakage, protruding nails, and the like.

 

Give everything their space

Finally, once you’ve got everything all stacked and housed, make sure to give everything a little breathing room. Keep your individual stacks a minimum of 8 feet apart to allow room to move through them, and keep the entire collection at least 25 feet away from your general inventory. This can help prevent both fire hazards and traffic jams, and a little extra breathing room never hurt.

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