Pallet racking systems are essential to many warehousing operations, allowing you to maximize the efficient use of limited space. However, the importance of safety cannot be overemphasized. There are a number of common pallet racking hazards that you should prepare for, ensuring that both your product and personnel remain secure against damage or injury.
Pallet Racking Failures
Well-designed and properly installed pallet racks can last for years — exhibiting strength, corrosion resistance, and durability. However, if a pallet racking system does fail, the consequences can be severe. Pallet rack collapse can be costly as inventory may be damaged or destroyed in the process. Furthermore, a pallet rack collapse can cause serious injury or death to workers and cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.
Avoiding a pallet rack failure should be one of your highest priorities as a warehouse manager.
When you install a pallet racking system, it’s imperative you ensure that it’s properly assembled. In addition, misaligned racking increases the risk of failure. Always ensure that the racks are properly aligned. Periodically check the alignment of the racks and conduct regular racking inspections using the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance.
Pallet Rack Damage
Forklift operators may inadvertently collide with one or more rack beams during material-handling tasks, such as loading pallets. This can cause physical damage to the pallet racking frame, compromising the structural integrity of the racking system as a whole. While eliminating accidents entirely can be difficult, you can minimize the frequency, and consequences, of a forklift collision by taking necessary precautions.
These include ensuring that every forklift operator is adequately trained and receives periodic retraining and installing protective barriers, such as rack guards. Rack guards, also known as column guards, are designed to protect the racking system’s uprights against impact damage or shock. These can play a vital role in preventing lift truck damage to the racking system.
It’s critical that you and your personnel regularly inspect rack beams for damage and signs of deformation.
Every shelving and racking system is rated for a specific weight capacity by the manufacturer. This information is expressed in several different ways. You’ll need to be aware of, and adhere to, the weight limits for individual bays and the racking system as a whole. You should also consult the manufacturer before changing beam height levels or otherwise altering the configuration of the racking system — this can change the load specifications.
Overloading a racking system can cause catastrophic failure, such as total collapse. If you have several racking systems in proximity to each other, the collapse of one can cause a domino effect. However, even a single racking system, depending on its dimensions and the weight it’s supporting, can cause substantial damage.
You should consider posting information, in the form of appropriate signage, on each racking system and racking bay, indicating the maximum allowable unit load, average unit load, and maximum total load. This is an essential part of warehouse safety.
As part of the pallet rack installation process, you’ll need to anchor the pallet rack to the floor using wedge anchors. Anchors are fasteners designed to increase the stability of the racking system, allowing it to resist accidental impact, earthquakes, and other forces. You usually use one or two anchors per foot plate. If you do not properly anchor the footplates, this can increase the risk of failure.
Correct Load Balancing
When your personnel are using material-handling equipment, such as forklifts, to load and unload pallets, load balancing is critical. If you don’t properly load the pallet rack, the uneven weight distribution can cause the decks to flex or bend.
Custom Pallet Racking Systems
Sometimes the solution to a warehouse storage problem is for you to order a custom-designed pallet racking system.
Although used pallet racking can be a worthwhile investment, it’s important to ensure that the racking system you purchase is compatible with the product range that you store. Items that overhang a pallet or other storage rack can pose additional health and safety hazards for your personnel.
At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we understand that pallet racking systems can pose certain challenges for the warehouse manager. If properly assembled, installed, and inspected, pallet racking systems offer significant benefits regarding storage and material handling. They allow you to efficiently manage and use the space available to you, which is at a premium in any warehouse.
It’s essential, however, that both you and your staff understand and follow proper safety protocols. If you need help determining the best way to inspect pallet racking systems, ensuring they meet the necessary standards, call us at (800) 589-7225.