The Champion

Does Your Material-Handling Training Stack Up?

Worksafe MaterialsImproper stacking and storage can result in injuries to workers and damage to costly materials. Today’s Advisor provides you with material-handling training content that stacks up as good safety best practices.

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not provide much specific direction concerning safe stacking and storage, 29 CFR 1910.176(b) of the material-handling standard does generally require secure workplace storage of materials. The regulation states: “Storage of material shall not create a hazard. Bags, containers, bundles, etc., stored in tiers shall be stacked, blocked, interlocked and limited in height so that they are stable and secure against sliding or collapse.”

Train employees who handle materials on these general safe stacking and storage rules:

  • Ensure that stacks are stable and self-supporting.
  • Observe height limitations when stacking materials.
  • Allow sufficient clearance around stacks for safe handling and easy access.
  • Make sure there is sufficient clearance between stacks and lights, heating pipes, and sprinkler heads.
  • Make sure stacks don’t block emergency exits, emergency equipment, or fire alarms.

Train employees who stack boxes to:

  • Place boxes on a pallet for stability and to make them easy to move.
  • Interlock boxes to make a more stable stack.
  • Band boxed materials or secure them with cross-ties or shrink wrap.

A good rule of thumb for ensuring a stable stack is to observe a height-to-base ratio that does not exceed 3:1 (or 4:1 at most if the stack is effectively interlocked and there is a good grip between the contacting surfaces).

Train employees who stack bags, sacks, and baled and bundled materials to:

  • Stack bags and bundles in interlocking rows to keep them secure.
  • Stack bagged material by stepping back the layers and cross-keying the bags at least every 10 layers.
  • Store baled paper and rags inside a building no closer than 18 inches to the walls, partitions, or sprinkler heads.

Train employees who stack pipes, poles, and bars to:

  • Not store pipes, poles, and bars in racks that face main aisles to avoid creating a hazard to passersby when removing supplies.
  • Stack and block pipes and poles as well as structural steel, bar stock, and other cylindrical materials to prevent spreading or tilting unless they are in racks.

Train employees who stack barrels and drums to:

  • Stack drums, barrels, and kegs symmetrically.
  • Chock the bottom tiers of drums, barrels, and kegs to keep them from rolling if stored on their sides.
  • Place planks, sheets of plywood dunnage, or pallets between each tier of drums, barrels, and kegs to make
  • firm, flat, stacking surface when stacking on end.

Train employees who stack lumber to:

  • Stack lumber no more than 16 feet high if it is 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.

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