When Should You Get Your Pallet Racks Inspected?

Posted by Charles Carbonneau, P. Eng. on September 25, 2019
Charles Carbonneau, P. Eng.
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Best practices in the material handling industry recommend the regular inspection of pallet rack systems in the warehouse by either your own safety personnel or an external rack safety expert. Can you remember the last time the racks in your warehouse were inspected?

Several types of inspections can be done in and around a warehouse racking system. The scope of the inspection and the qualifications of the inspector largely depend on what is required. As for the frequency, it depends on the type of activity occurring in the warehouse or distribution center, but safety authorities will recommend an independent third-party rack inspection on an annual basis, with regular planned inspections by maintenance personnel or an expert in the interim.

Since we are often asked: “When should I get my racks inspected?” Here’s a look at the various moments you might require pallet rack inspection services:

After a New Rack Installation

Whether it will cover your entire warehouse or just an aisle, a brand-new rack installation sometimes calls for a third-party to verify that everything was installed according to the manufacturer’s plans and specifications or to confirm that the rack systems are ready to be used safely.

Corporate Safety Initiative

When launching a company-wide safety program, you may want a baseline inspection of the racks to assess their condition at a specific point in time and be able to measure your progress towards a safer warehouse environment. For instance, if you are operating several facilities, you may wish to get a better overall picture of the level of safety in each of the warehouses, to gain insight on which locations need more attention. In such a case, you will surely require to have uniformity in the assessment and that may call for expert services.

Timely Re-Assessment

An annual, quarterly, or monthly re-inspection of your racks after a baseline inspection has been conducted. New damage may have occurred, or there is a need to update the status of previously reported issues (repairs, replacements, flagged issues...). You may also require assistance in establishing priorities, and a re-assessment can help you track your progress.

Regulatory Compliance Review

Some jurisdictions require an official document stating that racks have been rated, inspected, and are safe to use. For example, MOL in Ontario requires a PSR (Pre-start Health and Safety Review) and British Columbia (WorkSafeBC) also requires regular inspections.

After a Repair or Replacement

If your damaged rack was fixed with replacement parts or a specialized rack repair kit, you might wish to ensure that the rack still meets original specifications. It can be inspected or reviewed by a racking specialist or an engineer.

Reconfiguration Review

Before and after you’ve modified the layout of your racking systems or changed the height of your beams, you are required to schedule an inspection to certify that your racking systems are safe for use and that they still respect their rated load capacity.

Collapse or Earthquake

Was there a significant incident in your warehouse? Whether it was induced by human error like a forklift accident or from a natural cause like an earthquake, you will need to pallet rack inspection services to make sure the integrity of your rack has not been compromised.

Regulatory Audit

Before or after a regulatory or corporate audit, you may need a comprehensive report on the conformity of your pallet rack systems and confirmation of their certification. A thorough inspection is performed and a report summarizing the results is sent shortly after.

Pre-purchase / Change of Tenant

If you are looking to acquire or lease a warehouse and need to know the current condition of the pallet racks inside. An inspection should allow you to better evaluate the investments needed to bring the racking back to conformity, if necessary. Much like a building inspection, a racking specialist can give you an accurate picture of the state of the racking systems before you buy or lease.

Performance Benchmarking

Want to make sure your internal inspections are uniform & up-to-par across one or all of your facilities? Let a third-party expert come in and inspect your racks. Compare the reports with your findings, then make an informed decision on appropriate next steps.

Operations & Safety Optimization

You require insight as to how to increase rack safety and optimize your racks’ performance in the warehouse. Engineers experienced with racking systems have the know-how to provide expert advice on how to maximize your operations and efficiency and decrease the risk of incidents.

Lacking Documentation?

Are you missing some important documentation about your racking systems? Do you have updated LARC drawings? Layouts with rated load capacities are a requirement. Load capacity labels or plaques are also mandatory and should be displayed on or near the rack systems to inform warehouse workers on the capacity of the rack systems. An engineer experienced with racking can support you in making sure all your documentation is up to date and your racks are properly labelled with their rated load capacities.

Who is qualified to carry out pallet racking inspection services?

When OSHA or RMI says a qualified person should inspect your racking systems, they are generally referring to someone familiar with storage rack design, installation, and use. An inspection can be done by someone who is employed by the storage rack system owner, provided they are trained and knowledgeable of racking systems and the hazards that surround them. However, load capacity calculations and certain types of rack reviews should only be performed by a professional engineer.

To make sure your racking assets and investments are well maintained, and that your workers are not exposed to unnecessary hazards, have your storage systems inspected regularly, by a qualified expert.

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