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How to ensure second hand pallets are safe for reuse?

April 13, 2022

There’s no doubt that wooden pallets are a vital resource for transporting goods across a wide range of industries. But not only are they reliable, durable and versatile, they’re also reusable, with second hand pallets offering an affordable option for companies with smaller budgets who still require high quality transportation materials. Companies that no longer require their pallets, often seek to sell them for reuse, creating a win-win situation where the seller recoups some of their initial investment and the buyer scores a cut-price pallet supply. However not all second hand pallets are created equal and there are some important factors to consider when sourcing second hand pallets.



How has it been treated?

If the pallets are only going to be used within Australia, it is safe and legal to choose a pallet that is untreated. However, if you intend to use your pallets for international exports, its essential that you buy a pallet that is compliant with the international standard ISPM 15, meaning it has been specially treated in order to kill any bacteria and pests that may be present in the wood. Untreated pallets run the risk of spreading bacteria or pests across international borders. In order to ascertain whether or not your second-hand pallet has been treated, you can check for a HT (heat treated) or MB (methyl bromide treated) stamp.


Does it have any noticeable defects?

When assessing the quality of second-hand pallets, a visual inspection is always a good idea to look for any obvious defects that could compromise the strength or safety of the pallet. Some key things to look out for include:

  • Protruding nails – nails on older pallets can become loose or displaced, making them unsafe to handle and running the risk of damaging stock. These sharp protrusions need to be hammered down or replaced in order to make the pallet safe.
  • Missing or damaged slats – if even a single slat on the pallet is either missing or badly damaged, this can compromise the structural integrity of the entire pallet, meaning it cannot be safely or reliably used to transport goods. Missing or damaged slats need to be replaced before the pallet can be used.
  • Water damage, rotting or mould – pallets that have been stored in moist conditions for a long period of time can begin to rot from the inside. Even if they appear whole and undamaged at first glance, it’s important to look closely for signs of water damage, as this can compromise the strength of the entire pallet.
  • Chemical contamination – depending on the industry in which the pallet was previously used, some pallets run the risk of having been contaminated with chemicals that are harmful to human health. If you notice a mark you suspect is a chemical spill, it’s best not to use the pallet at all.


Are they consistent?

If you’re buying second hand pallets, it’s important to note whether they are all the same size and whether they are compatible with any pallets you may already have. Pallets can come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and standard Australian pallets for domestic use will differ in their dimensions and weight rating to standard European pallets for export use. If you intend on using pallets together in stacks, their size should be consistent.

What’s the best way to ensure you’re buying high-quality second-hand pallets?

While using second hand pallets can be a great option, navigating the second-hand market can be tricky. You’ll need to watch out for suppliers trying to get rid of damaged or substandard pallets and each pallet will need to be individually inspected and, in some cases, repaired before they can be safely used. Cooperage Pallets makes sourcing safe and reliable second hand pallets easy as we provide second hand pallets that have already been rigorously inspected and if necessary, repaired by our expert team.



Second hand pallets can be a safe and economical option, as long as the pallets you are buying suit your needs and have been carefully inspected for faults or damage. Cooperage Pallets sells high-quality second hand pallets you can trust, as each pallet has been inspected by one of our expert team members before being cleared for sale. Contact Cooperage Pallets today for a free quote.