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Understanding The Safe Working Load Of A Pallet

When choosing the correct pallet for your business needs, you need to know how much weight it can hold. However, understanding the safe working load of a pallet can be tricky. So we share key information and top tips for choosing the right pallet.


What is the safe working load (SWL) of a pallet?

The short answer is that every pallet has more than one safe working load! As different variables and stacking patterns can alter the load bearing capacity of a pallet, it can be difficult to determine a single safe working load.

For example, a single heavy duty pallet may be able to safely hold 1000kg across its centre without issue. However, if weight is applied to a different area (for example if interlocking payloads are applied), the same pallet may be able to hold 1500kg. Both of these figures count as valid safe working loads.

There are all sorts of variables that can also impact the safe working load of a pallet, from load distribution to temperature to customer handling. That’s why we never guarantee a safe working load for recon pallets; there are too many factors outside of our control.


So how do I easily compare pallets?

As safe working loads can be variable, the British Standard result is usually applied to pallets to ensure their safe use across the UK.

When pallets are tested according to the British Standard (ISO 8611), the results will give a single nominal test result (known as the nominal load, expressed in kg).

The nominal load assesses the safe working load of a particular pallet in its weakest mode, which might be when weight is placed either across is length or its width. This will most often be determined by beam racking. So a pallet with a 1000kg nominal load will be able to carry that weight no matter how the weight is distributed across the pallet.

This nominal load is now widely used as an easy way to compare different pallets, but remember that its safe working load may be considerably higher in reality, as a pallet’s payload can often add to its strength. For example, interlocked sacks or boxes contribute to the overall strength performance of a pallet.


Where can I find the safe working loads of my chosen pallet?

The British Standard (ISO 8611) recognises that a particular pallet design will have different safe working loads, depending on the nature of the goods it’s carrying.

  • If you’re using new pallets, we can estimate it pretty accurately using pallet design software, when designing your pallets.
  • If you’re using recon pallets, we can only use our best guesstimate.

Either way, you still need to trial and test the pallets in-house as part of your risk assessments, taking into account your company’s own individual processes.

Remember to be cautious if you are using pallets that are marked with a safe working load – this may no longer be accurate. The pallet may have since been handled or stored in a way that will have reduced its safe working load, or enough time may have passed that the safe working load is now lower.

If you need further advice, get in touch.

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