Damage to warehouse racks is more common than you might think. Warehouses are high-traffic areas where heavy machinery operates daily. Dings, dents, and other damage can occur to pallet racking systems, which is why regular inspections are critical for employee safety. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and OSHA suggests that warehouses are among the highest-risk work environments.
Some damage can compromise the storage racks’ structural integrity and might not be visible at first glance. You can take some essential steps when inspecting pallet racks to make sure you don’t miss any of the less obvious safety hazards lurking in your warehouse.
Check For Deflection
Deflection is the degree at which a structural element is displaced under the weight of a load. Horizontal beam deflection can be challenging to detect in your pallet racks, but if you notice any signs of bending or sagging, this indicates a serious warehouse safety issue. If you see any bowing or sagging during inspection, immediately remove all items from that pallet rack unit and repair or replace it.
Buckled or bent vertical uprights can be tough to spot, but any deformity in their structure can prevent the pallet rack from safely supporting a load. The best way to inspect the uprights for bending or buckling is to hold a straightedge or level against them. If there are any gaps, you know there are weak points in the structure, and weight should be removed immediately.
Check For Damages
Some visual cues are clear indicators of damage to your pallet racks. Material handling equipment in a warehouse is heavy duty, and vehicles like forklifts can dent or skew racking badly if it makes contact while passing through. Even a small impact can loosen or misalign various components of the pallet rack system. Pallet racks are intended to support loads, not endure impacts.
You can protect your pallet racks with safety components such as rack aisle guards, rub rails, and pallet safety bars. The features absorb the shock of impact and protect the steel underneath from scratches and dents that can lead to corrosion or collapse.
Don’t Overlook the Small Stuff
Just because you don’t see a massive dent in your pallet racking system or a bowing in the uprights, it doesn’t mean your system is secure. Frequent inspections require you to pay attention to the details and ensure every aspect of the rack is safe. Here is what else to look for:
Pallet racks should be bolted to the warehouse floor because the rack’s stability relies on its feet. If you notice a baseplate is damaged, bent, loose or missing, this can compromise the rack’s stability.
Rust is a sign of metal corrosion, which can weaken a rack’s structure and make it unreliable. Corrosion cannot be repaired, and any part of the rack that appears weakened will need to be replaced.
Misaligned Diagonal Braces
Diagonal braces act as shock absorption for the pallet rack system. If they are snapped or loose, then there is a risk to your warehouse operation crew, requiring immediate attention.
Label Your Racking System
To maximize pallet rack safety, always label your racks when you install them. Labels should be made of a durable material that lasts as long as your racking system and includes information about weight capacity, positioning, and the number of items each rack can support.
When you perform an inspection of rack damage, note any missing or illegible labels and replace them accordingly.
When To Inspect Pallet Racks
To comply with OSHA industry-standard safety regulations regarding workplace hazards, have your pallet racks inspected by a third-party professional annually. OSHA may perform random inspections of your warehouse to ensure safety standards are being upheld. However, depending on the level of traffic and amount of heavy equipment operating in your warehouse, consider inspecting your racks at least every six months.
A professional inspection annually allows you to ensure you’re meeting national safety standards, but more frequent checks in between can help keep you on top of minor violations. You should also perform inspections anytime:
- A new rack is brought into your facility and installed
- Following a repair or replacement
- An impact incident like a forklift colliding with the racking system occurs
- Natural disasters occur in the area, such as an earthquake (even a minor one)
- You have a regulatory audit coming up
- You are launching a new safety program or initiative within the company and need a baseline to measure proper standards
Staying on top of your pallet rack repairs and inspections help prevent major violations from taking place or going unchecked.
Maintaining your pallet racking system and keeping up with regular inspection deadlines ensures you can feel confident it is always safe and functional. Follow up on all incidents in your warehouse regarding pallet racks, no matter how small. Anything that prevents your racking system from bearing its full weight capacity should be addressed promptly.
At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we buy and sell used racking systems and sell brand new ones. We are committed to providing a system that works for you from its design to installation. All of our projects are installed safely and accurately by our trained and insured professional installation crews. To get a quote or discuss your pallet racking system needs, contact us today at (800) 589-7225.