OSHA Regulations for Stacking Bulk Storage

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) sets guidelines for stacking goods in a warehouse or fulfillment center. These guidelines are in place to ensure the safety of employees and others in the facility. While the type of heavy-duty shelving you use is important, knowing how to stack your merchandise correctly is also critical. Collapsing loads and falling stock can crush or seriously injure employees or passersby.

Whether stacking your stock using a forklift or manually, your business is responsible for the safety of everyone in your building. If an employee gets injured on the job, it could result in a costly lawsuit or even a fatality.

Learning and understanding the OSHA regulations for stacking bulk storage should be a critical part of your onboarding and training program, especially if you stock cumbersome or hazardous products. Employees should also be aware of weight bearing limits and the condition of the warehouse racking they are stacking the stock on.

What are the OSHA basics for stacking bulk storage?

General considerations

Your stock should be stored based on how often it is accessed. More frequently accessed product should be easily accessible to prevent constant retrieving of items that are stacked high.

Walls and beams should be painted with stripes to indicate easily identifiable maximum stacking heights. Strict enforcement of height limitations should be observed.

Use floor tape around the edges of stacks to remind employees where a stack should be placed.

Use signs throughout the facility to mark pedestrian traffic, vehicle traffic, and loading areas to keep your warehouse safe and running smoothly.

How to stack products

Depending on your business and your inventory your stock may come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Pipes and long bars should be stored in cantilever racks away from the main aisle, so they don’t inadvertently roll out of the rack and injure someone.

Barrels, kegs, and drums should be secured with pallets or plywood dunnage in between the rows to prevent them from falling over.

To secure bundles and bags stack them in interlocking rows.

Bales of baled paper or rags must be stored inside a building. Leave no less than 18” between the bales and walls or support columns. There also should be a minimum of 18” between the top of the stack the fire sprinkler.

Band, crosstie with plastic fibers or stretch wrap boxed materials to ensure they remain stable. Stack similar sized and weight of boxes together when possible.

Height limitations

If you are storing combustible inventory, you may need a high pile storage permit. This permit is typically required for items stored above 12 ft. for an area greater than 500 sq. ft.

Nails must be removed from lumber before stacking. Lumber cannot be stacked more than 16 ft. high if it is handled manually or 20 ft. high when using a forklift. The lumber must be level, stable and supported with bracing.

Stacking methods

The method of stacking you use can ensure your product is secure. Remember always to stack heavier items closer to the floor to prevent your stack from collapsing.

Block stacking

Stack stock in a cube and secure it with shrink wrap or wire.

Brick stacking

To secure the stock in place if the stack is bumped, turn each level of the stack 90 degrees.

Pinwheel stacking

For even more security, turn a quadrant 90 degrees rather than each level to lock the stack in place.

Irregular stacking

Place a sheet of plywood between each layer to stabilize non-standard stock.

Final word

At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. we can help you design and install the most suitable industrial shelving for your products. We can also help you design your racking system per all the state and local codes, so you safely stack your product and adhere to OSHA regulations. Please contact a member of our team for assistance by calling 1-800-589-7225 (RACK).