Where there are forklifts, there is bound to be damaged warehouse-racking components. Lift trucks, pallet jacks, and other material handling equipment are among the leading causes of damage to industrial steel storage racks. However, the pallets they carry can also strike rack components as they are transported or handled, and damaged warehouse racking is often left unreported. Some forklift operators aren’t aware of the dents they cause or the consequences this may have on the racking's safety as a whole. Warehouse workers are also less likely to report an accident involving a pallet rack system if they fear retaliation. However, aside from the more forceful and visible impacts caused by these trucks, there are several other ways a pallet rack's structural integrity may be compromised:
- Missing components such as braces, anchors, or beam clips.
- Unknown load capacity of each rack level. Knowing the maximum unit load and communicating it to your workers with labels or plaques will help avoid overloading the beams and racking systems.
- Improper loading of pallets can create instability or stress on a concentrated part of the rack, causing the system to implode or collapse in a domino effect.
- Modifying the original configuration of your rack, such as moving a beam height or removing a beam without an engineer's approval, can result in a weakened structure, causing increased risk to those who work around it. Adding new beams may also change the capacity of other rack levels and adjacent bays.
- Rust or corrosion of components, particularly in humid environments like freezers or outdoor settings.
- Complacency or unawareness of deficiencies can lead to unaddressed rack damage and unnecessary risk.
Who can perform a pallet rack inspection?
Although most damaged warehouse racking occurs between the floor and the first horizontal beam statistically, damage can occur at any level and is not always visible from the floor. Only a thorough examination or assessment can determine the safety of your racking system. An engineer or safety specialist experienced with racking systems is best suited to help you assess the compliance of your racking systems and can support you in prioritizing the issues once they have been reported. An engineer can also ensure your rack capacities are accurately calculated and valid. However, this doesn’t mean you or a member of your warehouse personnel can’t start by performing a walk-through of your warehouse today. We’ve put together a simple pocket guide to help clarify what damage or issues needs to be addressed. It highlights basic warehouse racking safety guidelines based on ANSI and RMI recommendations.
How frequently should a warehouse be inspected?
OSHA and ANSI remain vague on the required frequency of warehouse rack inspections. It mostly depends on the velocity and speed at which rack-related issues accumulate in a particular warehouse. Some aisles may require daily or weekly inspections. As a rule of thumb, we recommended daily, weekly or monthly inspections by warehouse personnel and yearly independent inspections by a third party expert.
Rack safety recommendations:
- Inspections are the best way to know if your racking systems are compliant.
- Once damage has been identified, it should be replaced or repaired. Don't wait for it to worsen.
- Rack load capacities must be calculated by engineers and displayed for warehouse workers to see (labels or plaques). The load calculations and drawings (LARCs) should be up-to-date and accessible for reference.
- Pallet racks form an interconnected steel web, and a single severely damaged component like a brace can jeopardize the entire system's integrity, leading to potential collapse. Take immediate action.
Damotech offers compliance inspection of pallet rack systems performed by experienced engineers. Find out more about our pallet rack inspection services.