As a business owner, you have a moral and legal obligation to keep your employees safe. For many industries in the U.S., this responsibility is overseen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Created in 1970, OSHA's fundamental objective is to reduce on-the-job injuries, illnesses and deaths for the industrial, construction, maritime and agricultural industries. Knowing the OSHA regulations that pertain to your industry is an important step in both maintaining workplace safety and preventing fines.

General Housekeeping

Placing empty pallets on the sales floor is in direct violation of OSHA regulation 1910.22 (a)(2), which requires that the floors in every workroom be kept clean and dry. Workrooms refer to every area of the workplace where employees have access, such as storerooms, hallways and offices. The risk of empty pallets being kept on the sales floor -- even for just a few minutes -- is that they create a hazard over which employees may fall or trip.

Storage Regulations

Although there aren't any OSHA regulations that determine where pallets must be kept, regulation 1917.14 for Marine Terminals requires that pallets be stacked neatly to ensure stability and reduce instances of sliding and collapse. In addition to pallets, this regulation is in place for all cargo and materials typically stored in tiers.

Fire Safety

OSHA regulation 1910.37 mandates that all exit routes within a building be kept free and unobstructed of all materials and equipment. Even when empty pallets are left on the sales floor temporarily, they may create an obstruction to one of the building's exits and inhibit employees and customers from exiting the building safely during an emergency.


The penalties for OSHA violations vary depending on a few factors: the severity of the offense, whether it was a repeat offense and whether the violation is deemed to be "willful." If empty pallets block an escape route during an emergency and lead to injury or death, penalties could be steep and may include jail time.