Stacking and storage is a daily occurrence and may apply at large warehouses, small consulting businesses or even at home. Every year accidents occur while goods are being stacked or destacked and put into or taken out of storage.
As part of this process, employers must take all reasonable steps to ensure that all goods, materials, substances and equipment in workplaces are kept safe and that they do not constitute a danger to employees during their daily operations. All workers who are or may be responsible for stacking, storing, securing, or keeping any goods, materials, substances, or equipment require should also be trained.
The Occupation Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 makes provisions for the stacking of items and gives guidelines as to how to conduct stacking and storage in a safe manner and some of the elements required by the General Safety Regulations Section 8 requires the following:
No employer shall require or permit the building of stacks which consist of successive tiers, one on top of another, unless -
the stacking operation is executed by or under the personal supervision of a person with specific knowledge and experience of this type of work;
the base is level and capable of sustaining the weight exerted on it by the stack;
the articles in the lower tiers are capable of sustaining the weight exerted on them by the articles stacked above them;
all the articles which make up any single-tier are consistently of the same size, shape and mass;
pallets and containers are in good condition; and
any support structure used for the stacking of articles is structurally sound and can support the articles to be stacked on it.
An employer shall not permit –
articles to be removed from a stack except from the topmost tier or part of that tier; and
anybody to climb onto or from a stack, except if the stack is stable and the climbing is done with the aid of a ladder or other safe facility or means.
persons engaged in stacking operations to not come within reach of machinery which may endanger their safety;
stacks that are in danger of collapsing are dismantled immediately in a safe manner; and
the stability of stacks is not endangered by vehicles or other machinery or persons moving past them.
If an organisation applies good housekeeping practices, the correct stacking and storage methods will be easier to implement. Principles to consider when implementing a stacking and storage programme include:
Do not store combustible materials close to potential ignition sources.
Utilise retention cords in areas where stacks are relatively high.
All areas within the workplace should be kept clean and free of obstructions/obstacles.
Never block off emergency exit/escape routes with stacks/racks.
Provide ladders to ensure safe manual handling whilst retrieving or stacking items.
Store heavy materials at the bottom and lighter items on the top.
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