What Causes a Warehouse Storage Rack Collapse and How to Prevent It?

Warehouse Storage Rack

Warehouse storage racks are designed to withstand heavy loads over long periods. Heavy-duty rack uprights, sturdy anchoring materials, weight-appropriate shelves, and rack protection contribute to a stable rack system that can last decades. However, accidents, wear and tear, or a lack of maintenance can cause the structural integrity of pallet rack systems to diminish.

Over time, structural deterioration can lead to warehouse racking collapse. When pallet racks collapse, they often cause a domino effect, damaging the structure, inventory, property, and staff. It also disrupts warehouse operations, leading to increased downtime and a loss of production.

Fortunately, there are several ways to identify structural damage, allowing you to recognize if a rack is in danger of collapse and take action to repair it.

What Causes a Warehouse Storage Rack Collapse?

Most warehouse storage rack collapses occur for one of the following reasons:

Forklift Damage

Forklifts are a leading cause of warehouse racking collapse. Although they are essential for accessing and transporting pallets around busy warehouses, forklifts often collide with racks, causing them to lean or collapse. They can also dent protective powder coating or paint, exposing the metal underneath to corrosion.


All pallet racks have a specific load capacity, signifying the maximum weight they can support. Overloading causes beams to deflect, tilting toward each other and reducing stability. It can also cause the shelves to sag or bend, increasing the risk of collapse.

Installation Errors

Although many modern racking systems are easy to install, they require specific knowledge and equipment. Errors when installing components such as base plates, spacers, or shims can jeopardize the structural integrity of racks and decrease the system’s weight capacity, increasing the risk of collapse.

Design Errors

A strategic and organized warehouse layout is essential for productivity and efficiency. It’s also crucial for health and safety. Size, accessibility, load capacity, aisle width, and other vital calculations must fit the precise needs of the warehouse. If your racking system is configured with insufficient aisle width, there is a higher risk of impact with manual and mechanical picking equipment.

Improper Use or Uneven Loading

Although a storage rack has a specific load capacity, it’s essential to distribute the weight evenly across the beams. Rack edges are typically weaker at the joints, meaning uneven loading can lead to stress-induced collapse.

Using Unsuitable Racks

Choosing the correct type of racking is critical for warehouse safety. The best racks for your warehouse depend on the products you store, size, weight, and shape. You should also consider the storage and retrieval processes of the warehouse, such as FIFO or LIFO.

For example, drive-in pallet racks are designed for storing large quantities of homogenous goods to maximize storage space. The layout allows forklift drivers to enter from one side, accessing racks stored on continuous rails. Drive-in racking is unsuitable for storing items with a higher degree of selectivity because it creates a much greater risk of contact between racks and forklifts.

Warehouse Storage Rack System

How to prevent Storage Rack Collapse

You can minimize the risk of rack collapse by implementing the following:

Choose the Right Racks

Choosing the right racks for your facility helps prevent them from collapsing. It promotes smooth warehouse operations and enables staff and forklift operators to work safely and efficiently. For example, companies that deal with large, heavy, and irregularly shaped goods often use cantilever racking. Cantilever racking’s open-sided design is perfect for heavy-duty storage, like furniture or lumber products.

At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we stock various cantilever racks, arms, safety nets (in case a product falls), and uprights. Our range of options allows you to configure the most suitable setup for your warehouse, creating a secure structure capable of supporting inventory safely.

Our Series 2000 medium-heavy duty cantilever racks are sturdy and stable, making them suitable for bulky items, such as tubing, bars, or pipes. Fast and easy installation ensures you can quickly improve your warehouse’s safety.

Opt for Professional Installation

Installing pallet racking is a complex process that requires planning, equipment, and expertise. Our factory-trained, professional installation crews are ISO 9001:2008 certified, ensuring we can carry out high-quality and reliable installations.

Conduct Regular Rack Inspections

Warehouse managers should perform regular inspections to ensure racking is kept in good condition. Before they escalate, you can spot potential problems by conducting daily, weekly, and monthly inspections. At least once per year, a professional health and safety expert should inspect your warehouse to ensure the racks are safe and compliant with OSHA standards.

Increase Aisle Clearance

Forklift collisions are responsible for numerous warehouse accidents, including rack collapse. Forklifts can travel up to 18 miles per hour, carrying thousands of pounds of products. One wrong move can cause a devastating domino effect of collapsing racks, endangering the entire warehouse staff.

Ensure that aisles have adequate clearance for forklifts and workers. It’s also vital to minimize clutter to improve visibility within the facility.

Install Rack Protection

Investing in rack protection is a cost-effective approach to improving the stability of a storage system. Installing aisle guards, column protectors, guide rails, and other protective equipment helps keep your products and racking safe even if they are hit by machinery or forklifts.

We supply a range of protective equipment capable of shielding a variety of rack styles and sizes. Our JescoGard heavy-duty rail system is designed to offer maximum strength and stability to a racking system. It also shields the base plates and anchors, protecting them from accidental collisions. This rail system comes in various weights and sizes, so you can find a rail guard that fits your facility’s precise needs.

Upgrade Your Warehouse Storage Rack System

Storage racking systems are typically manufactured using high-quality steel for durability and longevity. However, all storage eventually becomes obsolete due to frequent use, accidents, and wear and tear. If your warehouse storage racks need replacing, upgrade your system with Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc.

We provide a wide range of new and used equipment, helping you find a system that meets your needs and budget. Browse our online catalog to view our complete inventory, or get in touch with a team member to discuss your options in more detail.