You weekend warriors out there probably have some experience with sprains, strains and maybe even fractures. Did you know that stress breaks and fractures can also afflict your containment decks and pallets? The orthopedist you have on speed dial can fix your gimpy limbs, but he can’t fix a deck or pallet with a cast or sling. In this case, preventative care is the best medicine.
PIG secondary containment pallets and decks are tough and tested to handle heavy loads. But that doesn’t mean they’re invincible.
Here’s a very important bit of information: All secondary containment pallets and decks have a weight rating or Uniform Distribution Load (UDL). The higher the number, the more weight the pallet or deck will hold. When weight ratings are expressed as a UDL, it means that the pallet or deck is capable of supporting that amount of weight when it is distributed evenly (or “uniformly”) over the entire surface. That caveat about even distribution is critical to remember: When a pallet fails, it’s usually not the weight that kills it as much as how that weight is distributed on the pallet.
Here’s an example. Our heavy-duty 4-drum poly spill containment pallet has a 9,000-pound UDL. That means that you can stack a total of 9,000 pounds of stuff on it without it failing, as long as all that stuff is spread out over the entire surface of the pallet. Now, pallets are designed for drums and most totes. These containers have large footprints that distribute their load. However, there are some portable tanks and totes that have feet on them. And if your stuff has feet or if it otherwise forces weight onto one small section of the pallet, well, you could have a problem.
You see, these items with feet force the entire weight of the tank, tote or whatever is being stored onto just a few isolated spots instead of spreading it over the entire surface of the pallet. This can cause anything from a dent in the grate (which is a telltale sign of an impending problem) to an actual stress fracture that can cause the grate to fail.
The good news is that a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down! Seriously, you can avoid pallet and deck stress fractures with a bit of preventative care. For tanks, totes or anything else with feet or legs that are less than 16″ square, just place a 12″ square piece of ½” plywood or a 1/8″ steel plate on the pallet under each foot or leg. This helps spread the load over a larger surface area to avoid grate failure.