Palletized handling and the barcode are often credited as having been the two key logistical breakthroughs of the 20th Century. By the 1940s, rail cars full of products that would previously take a few days to manually unload could be unloaded by pallet and forklift in just a few hours. Imagine the reduction in back and upper body strain!
Today, there are an estimated 1.8 billion pallets in use in the United States. Pallets and palletized loads are integral to many many industries, including recycling operations where they are used to accumulate, store and ship recycled products.
When properly used, the pallet provides huge operational efficiencies. Workers in such operations exposed to pallets, however, should take care to limit any risk to injury by undertaking a few basic precautions, including safe behaviors when working around pallets, effective pallet inspection, and understanding the characteristics of different pallet materials.