An essential element of any warehouse or distribution center’s operations is ensuring the safety and stability of its pallet racks. Racks play a crucial role in storing and organizing products, but they can pose a serious hazard if improperly maintained.
It’s essential to have a regular inspection protocol to check for signs of damage or wear. Some things you should check for during an inspection include bent or broken frame components, missing or damaged guard rails and column protectors, and loose or damaged nuts and bolts. You should also check for signs of rust or corrosion.
If you notice any of these problems, it is vital to address them as soon as possible to avoid further inventory or rack damage and maintain the safety of your employees.
How Often Should I Perform a Pallet Rack Inspection?
Rack safety standards are regulated by the International Building Code (IBC), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the Rack Manufacturer Institute (RMI). Each of these organizations emphasizes the importance of regular inspections of your rack installation.
Although the RMI does not have a strict timeline for rack inspection, they recommend regular periodic in-house inspections and an inspection with a qualified rack engineer following seismic activity or a collision. It is also recommended to have a professional warehouse rack assessment at least once a year by qualified inspection services.
In some cases, you may need to perform rack inspections more frequently. These cases include if you have high traffic volumes around end aisles and transfer aisles or a pallet racking system that previously sustained multiple collisions or serious damage.
OSHA Racking Inspection Guidelines
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees workplace safety. Although they do not have guidelines for creating a checklist for warehouse racking safety, OSHA’s general regulations provide a framework for workplace safety.
Three OSHA standards that pertain to common concerns with storage, pallet racking, and safe forklift maneuvering, include:
1910.176 (a)–Equipment used in the workplace must be handled properly to avoid potential hazards. OSHA requires that mechanical equipment be used safely, with adequate clearances and correct markings for passageways and permanent aisles. It also covers safe mechanical equipment usage in the workplace.
1910.176 (b)–According to the regulation, bags, containers, and bundles should be stored in tiers, stacked, blocked, interlocked, and limited in height so that they are stable, with minimal chance of sliding or collapsing. This standard prevents workplace injuries by ensuring that materials are stored correctly.
1910.176 (c)–This standard emphasizes storage facility cleanliness. It states that items that could cause tripping hazards, fires, explosions, or pest infestation be removed from storage facilities.
Pallet Racking Inspection Checklist
Regular pallet inspections help you avoid potential hazards before they become a serious and costly problem. An inspection should include checking for signs of physical damage, ensuring that the racks are correctly labeled and numbered, and verifying that the loads are properly balanced. Other items on the inspection checklist include:
The first thing you should check is the load capacity of the storage rack system. This information should be clearly marked on the rack using a plaque or label. Ensure the rack is not overloaded and that the loads are evenly dispersed.
Check the loads to ensure they are evenly balanced and that there are no sharp straight edges or protruding nails that could damage the rack or cause injury. Once the items are safely loaded onto the rack, they should be secured in place to prevent them from shifting during storage or transport.
You should also check the clearance around the rack. Ensure that there is enough space for forklifts to maneuver safely and that there are no obstacles that could impede their movement. If there is not enough clearance, it increases the risk of accidents and injuries.
The minimum aisle width for a forklift depends on the vehicle’s design and dimensions. Most forklifts are single-reach machines, which means they can only access a single pallet at a time. To calculate the minimum aisle width for your pallet racking system, take the right-angle stack width of the forklift, add the length of the load, and add 12” clearance.
Also, check the clear height (the clearance between the top of the rack and the ceiling). Your racking system should have an adequate clear height to allow sprinklers and fire suppression systems to operate effectively.
Base Plates and Shims
Check the base plates and shims to ensure that they are securely in place and that the rack is level. This can help prevent the rack from tipping over or collapsing. The purpose of a base plate is to provide a stable foundation for the rack, while shims are used to level the rack.
Check the condition of the rack design. Look for signs of damage, such as dented or broken beams, uprights, braces, or guards. Ensure all safety devices, including guard rails, column protectors, and rack nets, are in place and functioning correctly.
Also, check the beam deflection of your racks. The allowable deflection for beams depends on their length and capacity, so it’s essential to consult your manufacturer’s specifications. According to ANSI rack design standards, the vertical deflection of beams with pallet loads should not exceed the beam length (L) divided by 180. For example, most standards beams are approximately 8’, so an acceptable maximum deflection would equal ½”.
Check the condition of the pallets. Ensure they are in good condition and that there are no broken or missing boards. If the pallets are damaged, they may not support the weight of your goods and could cause them to collapse.
Also, ensure that the area around the racking structures is free from obstacles and hazards. This includes loose pallets, boxes, or other debris that could cause someone to trip and fall.
Keep Your Warehouse Safe
At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we understand the importance of keeping your warehouse safe. We offer a wide range of products and services designed to help you protect your property and employees.
From our selection of high-quality shelving and racks to our professional installation services, we have everything you need to create a safe and productive workplace. Call us at (800) 589-7225 to learn more about how we can improve your warehouse safety.