Not only does pallet deterioration contribute to product stock and shelving damage, it can also create hazards that may cause accidents or harm employees. Identifying pallet damage and taking steps to extend the life of your pallets can reduce workplace injuries, stretch the budget, and reduce overall downtime and bottlenecks.
Common Causes of Pallet Damage in Warehouses
While there are many factors that can lead to pallet damage, the most common things that contribute to breakage or deterioration include:
- Wrong pallet type
- Pallet rack damage or insufficient pallet rack maintenance
- Improper pallet handling: Shortforking, bulldozing, or pinwheeling loads
How to Prevent Pallet Damage
Always ensure proper training for forklift drivers, loaders, warehouse workers, and any employees who may be present in pallet loading or storage areas. Prioritize the employee training techniques and subject matter that most applies to the department, including proper pallet handling, how to inspect pallets, requirements for transporting and loading, and general warehouse safety.
Use floor markings and visual cues that make aisles, crossing zones, pedestrian-only areas, and hazards clear and easy to spot. These may include floor marking tape, floor signs, posters, or projectors and interchangeable gobo discs. Clear warehouse markings issue important reminders, provide visual instructions, and reduce confusion about internal processes.
Inspect your pallets before loading products and regularly as part of a regular safety audit: Look for loose boards, damaged, warped, or cracked boards, or excessive moisture absorption which can compromise your pallets. If these are noted, you must replace or repair your pallets to prevent further damage or safety incidents.
Examine your warehouse layout and ensure it is designed to prevent damage, as well. This includes having aisles that are wide enough—OSHA requires aisles be at least three feet wider than the largest equipment you’ll use, or four feet wide, minimum—and clearly marking aisle borders to provide clear visual cues to prevent impact.
Choose the right pallet storage method. Pallet racking and floor stacking are both good options, but the correct method depends on your facility’s needs. Pallet racking is popular and provides plenty of vertical space for storage, but takes more time to set up—meaning it’s more difficult to adjust the layout than with floor stacked pallet storage. For pallet storage areas, removable floor markings can be changed and updated as layout requires, making floor stacking a convenient, customizable choice if your stock levels and space allow.
Visual Cues Provide Reminders
Visual cues are an important aspect of industrial safety: Reaction time is improved when clear signage and posted reminders are used as part of a communications strategy. These notices go beyond applying border lines to mark aisles. Reduce pallet damage and forklift accidents while providing benefits to employees and visitors with set messaging and color standards that alert to hazards. Comply with facility labeling guidelines and use floor marking tape and signs to indicate:
- Pallet stacking height limits
- Aisle or zone numbering
- Maximum load weight
- Speed limit reminders
- Pedestrian zones
- Crosswalk lines
- No Vehicle postings
- Forklift swing markings
- Required stops
Benefits of Floor Markers Versus Taped Lines
Floor marking tape is a durable, long-lasting option for marking warehouse floors, but if your tape applications suffer excess damage or wear too quickly, corner markers may be a better option. Though our patented Superior Mark® floor marking tape is designed with beveled edges and highway grade and recessed adhesive to reduce damage from forklifts or pallet dragging, some locations may need another solution. L-, X-, and T-shaped corner floor markers are placed to create a border within which pallets should be placed. These floor markers are available in a range of colors, including diagonal hazard lines, checkerboard, and contrasting stripes to create better visual cues to improve pallet storage.
Corner markers are easier to maintain than taped lines, and they make a great alternative to taping solid borders around pallet locations. Because the smaller markers use less tape and require less maintenance, they also stretch your floor marking budget. Marking only corners also prevents forklifts from scraping up taped lines when moving pallets, which greatly reduces tape damage, extending the time between re-application. If a corner marker does become damaged, it is easy to replace—without having to re-apply an entire line.
How Many Floor Markers Do I Need?
For pallets not stored on racks, such as warehouses that rely on floor stacking or in receiving or unpacking areas where pallets are waiting to be moved, consider gridding out the floor using a combination of Ls, Ts, and Xes to mark pallet locations for neater, straighter rows—and less pallet damage from bumping or impact. To determine how many floor markers you need, consider how many rows you have to mark and how many pallets per row. Then, use our floor markers calculator to determine how many of each floor marker type you need. Choose from Superior Mark™ floor markers in a variety of colors to color-code your pallet storage system, and apply floor labels, wall and floor signs, and repeating message floor tape to provide context and instructions for a better-organized warehouse.
How to Apply Corner Markers for Best Results
No special equipment is necessary to apply floor markers, but care should be taken to properly clean and prepare the floor prior to tape installation. Begin the process by marking a grid on the floor, allowing enough space within the boxes to accommodate pallets.
As with applying floor marking tape, follow these steps to apply corner markers:
- Sweep away any dirt or debris.
- Mop the area or use a degreaser to fully clean away contaminants.
- Apply 70- to 90-percent Isopropyl Alcohol to the tape installation area, wipe away, and allow the surface to dry.
- Test the floor by applying a scrap piece of tape and pulling away: If it’s clean, you’re ready to apply; if dirt or debris is present, clean and test again.
- Peel away the backing liner (if present) and carefully apply the marker to the marked floor: Some corner and X-shaped markers come in two pieces with puzzle-cut corners that connect for a perfect fit, while single-piece floor markers apply all at once, no need to match edges.
- To activate the adhesive, tamp the application thoroughly with at least three passes using 150 pounds or more, then open the area to traffic.
Pallet damage can be costly, and damaged pallets can create hazards. To prevent pallet damage or accidents related to broken or spilled pallets, provide sufficient forklift and loading training, examine and replace damaged pallets regularly, and use floor marking tape and signs for visual reminders of proper pallet and forklift use. For more warehouse safety tips and tricks, explore our Resource Center.