Stocking Shelves Safely

Stocking Shelves Safely

All businesses store something at their facilities. Whether it’s spare parts or office supplies, they need a place to keep items that are either not needed at the moment, or are the products that they are selling to the general public. Knowing the safe way to store material is important because it can protect your staff and your customers. Stocking shelves safely, therefore, needs to be a practice and procedure for many companies.

Stocking Shelves Safely

The Right Shelves for the Job

The first item that a company or organization needs to look at is if they are using a shelf that is the right size and can support the weight of the item that they are putting on it. I used to work at the local hardware store in my home town and in the back area they kept all the extra boxes of nails on a metal shelf. The weight of each box of nails was around 50 lbs, and there would be six or more boxes on each shelf. The result was that most of the shelves had a very pronounced bend. The amount of weight that a rack of shelving can hold is listed on the box. If you know what you will be stocking, and the weight, be sure to select the appropriate shelves for the items.

Shelves must be wide enough that the items can fit on them with nothing hanging over the edge that a person or piece of equipment, such as a forklift, can hit. In warehouses and some stores, such as building supply stores, very large items will be placed on the shelves. It would be very dangerous; therefore, if a forklift or other piece of equipment struck the item and knocked it off the shelf. Selecting shelves that are the right size prevents this from happening.

Overstocking Shelves

Even if you have selected the right racks for your material, you need to ensure that you do not put more items on the shelf than it can safely hold. Even light items that are loaded on the shelf must not be stacked too high or they could fall off. That same local hardware store had a habit of overstocking the electrical and appliance sections of the store. I saw a spool of wire fall of the shelf one day, and a coffee maker another because the shelf was overfilled. The coffee maker was on the top shelf when a customer tried to put it back and it fell back off. At that point the customer said that she wanted to sue because it almost hit her, until I pointed out that I saw her put it back on the shelf from the cash register. The wire spool fell off when we were stocking the shelve s on inventory day. I was loading a heavy spool on the bottom shelf and the vibration caused a small spool to fall off.

Manufacturer’s guidelines state how much weight can be stocked on a shelf. These are not suggested weights, but what the shelf can actually support. As shown, too much weight on a shelf can damage the shelf, causing it to bend. Know the weight of the items you need to store and never exceed the weight the shelf can hold to ensure that you are stocking shelves safely.

Shelf Collapse

Items in Their Place

When stocking shelves, heavier items should be on the bottom shelf. This is for two reasons. One is that it will prevent the rack of shelving from becoming overbalanced. Top heavy shelves would be unsteady and could fall. On the lower shelf, the heavy weight of items would provide greater balance to the shelf, acting as a counter weight to the items on the upper shelves. In another context, loading the top drawer of a file cabinet can cause it to fall over for the same reason.

The other reason is more ergonomic. It puts greater strain on the body to lift heavy items then to lift light ones. If you had an item that is heavy and you tried to raise it higher than your waist, you are putting more strain on your back and shoulders. You must also remember that some people are not as strong as others, so if they had to get access to an item, such as a box of photocopier paper that is on a higher shelf, they may not be able to handle it. Keeping a heavy item on a lower shelf makes it safer for staff to access is an important part of stocking shelves safely.


Shelf Inspection

Racks of shelves must be inspected often to ensure that safe for use. You need to ensure that the shelves are not damaged or they could collapse. You also need to ensure that the material is stored properly on the shelf so that it won’t be struck by a person or piece of equipment. Ensure that loads are secure, especially any loads that are on pallets so that they won’t fall when being moved. Check braces, racking and other hardware to ensure that nothing is missing or damaged. By doing a daily check, you can be assured that there were be minimal chance of collapse.


Stocking shelves safely should be an important part of many industries safe work plans. It not only protects staff, but clients as well. It also goes beyond the store or warehouse, but to the office supply room as well. Selecting the right rack of shelves ensures that items can be placed on them without worrying about them failing, while frequent inspection can detect any damage caused by an incident. Having a plan in place to make it easier to stock and remove heavy items can make it easier on staff by not having to strain themselves by having to lift heavy materiel off a high shelf. Following these steps can help all companies working with shelves plan to stay safe.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *