Home and Community Safety & Health Safety

Pallet-related injuries send thousands of people to ERs each year, study finds

Photo: Thomas De Wever/iStockphoto

University Park, PA — Planning a do-it-yourself project with shipping pallets, or headed to your local “big box” retailer? Be careful: Non-work-related injuries involving pallets resulted in more than 30,000 emergency room visits over a recent five-year period, according to researchers from Penn State University and the University of Florida.

The researchers looked at data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which collects information from a sample of about 100 selected ERs. They found that an estimated 30,493 people visited an ER because of a non-occupational injury involving pallets at home and retail locations from 2014 through 2018. More than 1 out of 6 of those injuries (5,481) involved people between the ages of 35 and 44. Approximately 4,000 people 65 and older, as well as 3,000 or so children, visited ERs with pallet-related injuries during the study period.

Approximately 14% of injuries occurred in retail establishments, such as grocery or big-box stores where pallets are used to display product.


“Based on our findings, the first obvious practical application of these results would be to eliminate pallets from being used in consumer-facing retail locations where unintentional contact could occur,” researcher Judd Michael, a professor of safety and health at PSU, said in a press release. “Retailers can cover all floor-level pallets with a brightly colored material to make them more visible, and never leave unused pallets laying on floors.”

Another strategy is using social media to discourage people from using pallets for DIY projects or other “unintended residential use.”

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