23 Oct Pallet Rack Safety Tips to Protect Your Pallet Rack
It’s a warehouse manager’s worst nightmare, and it’s one played out in scary YouTube videos for all to see. The collapse of a pallet racking system can damage your goods and equipment, and most importantly, injure or even kill your employees. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent this type of catastrophe from happening in your warehouse. With proper pallet rack safety in installation, maintenance, and employee training, you can keep your employees and your pallet racks safe and secure.
Here are the most important pallet rack safety tips to ensure a safe working environment in your warehouse.
Our Core Pallet Rack Safety Suggestions
Install Your Racking Correctly
The first and most crucial step to pallet rack safety is proper installation. If you are installing the system yourself, be sure to follow all directions for anchoring the racking. The following products will help keep your pallet racks stabilized:
- column guards
- beam drop pins
- pallet supports
- end-of-aisle guards
- safety netting or straps
- capacity labels
The best way to ensure that your racking is installed correctly is to work with pallet rack installation professionals. While you might save a little bit of money by installing your pallet racking yourself, you can avoid some major accidents and headaches, and save a ton of time by working with professionals.
Know and Post Your Pallet Rack’s Capacity Limits
Pallet rack capacity can vary due to the quality and gauge of the steel, vertical beam spacing, beam length, upright frame capacity, and pallet load weight and dimensions. All pallet rack systems have a manufacturer’s maximum design load capacity.
Exceeding these limits can trigger a collapse. When you clearly post the maximum capacities per pallet or beam level, your warehouse employees will know how much weight the system can safely take.
Sometimes when a warehouse expands, it can be tempting to modify pallet racks to handle the expansion. However, these changes can exceed original safe design limits and ultimately lead to rack failure.
Schedule Regular Inspections
By regularly inspecting your pallet racks, you can catch minor damage that could turn into big trouble down the road. Signs of potential concern include:
- deflected beams
- frame dents or scrapes
- missing safety pins
- bent beam connectors
- crooked rows or bad alignments
- bent or buckled uprights
- rust spots
- loose baseplates or connectors
Racking can start to lean due to uneven loading, improper installation, and forklift impacts. This leaning can worsen over time, diminishing the racking’s load capacity to decrease and possibly causing a collapse.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) uses a standard (ANSI MH16.1-2012) to MEASURE whether or not a pallet rack is safely plumb. The standard states that the maximum allowable out-of-plumb distance is the rack height (in inches) divided by 240.
For example, using that standard, a 20-foot rack cannot be more than one inch out of plumb in any direction.
Repair or Replace any Damaged Racking
If you notice tell-tale signs of damage, you need to make the necessary repairs or replacements as soon as possible. Although it is tempting to take a wait-and-see attitude, you must make safety your priority. Even minor dings and dents can be signs that a collapse could occur.
In addition to using your eyes to inspect racks, you can use tools such as a long level, plumb bob, or laser line to find out if the columns are leaning, bent, or bowed. You may be able to repair a lean by unloading the rack, loosening the column bolts in order to straighten them, and then re-tightening bolts.
Of course, repairs tend to be less expensive and less disruptive to your business. But sometimes the damage is too extensive, and the rack needs to be replaced. When faced with replacement costs, it’s important to keep in mind the far greater potential costs of a rack collapse.
Focus on Employee Training
Forklifts are an essential part of most warehouse operations, but this machinery causes up to 90% of pallet damage. As a result forklift safety should be a major focus in your employee training.
Train your forklift operators on correct pallet load capacities and how to distribute loads evenly and drive carefully throughout the warehouse. Ask drivers to report any mishaps promptly, assuring them that safety is your main concern.
Ask supervisors to help reduce accidents through frequent walk-throughs and video monitoring to make sure speed limits and safety rules are being followed.
Although forklift operators are key to pallet rack safety, all employees should be trained on basic measures for reporting rack damage and overall warehouse safety. And emphasize to your team that only employees who have been fully trained in forklift operation should drive these vehicles.
If you have any questions on pallet rack safety and what you can do to make your warehouse a safer environment, please get in touch with the experts at Speedrack West. We’re ready to help you design a pallet rack system that is efficient, affordable, and safe.