Tricks of the Trade: Tips on How to Inspect Used Pallet Racking Systems

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces standards in the workplace to ensure safe and healthy working conditions. OSHA laws and regulations state that pallet racking systems must be safe, secure, and free of potential dangers, such as trip and fire hazards.

All systems must also have sufficient clearance for forklift operations and material handling. Failing to abide by OSHA regulations can result in fines and penalties.

Professional pallet racking inspections can help you to maintain a safe warehouse storage system. However, it isn’t practical to have qualified experts on site year-round. It’s important to know where to look and how to identify potential issues.

What to Look For

If you’re carrying out an in-house inspection or monitoring common issues, here are some things to look out for:

Inspect beams for damage

Pallet racks often suffer damage when goods are being inserted or removed by forklifts. Even light collisions can cause accumulative damage over time, compromising the storage racks’ structural integrity. If left unchecked, this could lead to diminished load capacity, causing the racks to collapse.

Check the front and rear beams for signs of damage, including dents, scratches, or skewing. However, superficial damage doesn’t necessarily affect structural integrity. Be sure to check whether any markings diminish the performance of the beams.

You should also measure the beam deflection. Deflection is the extent to which supporting beams bow or sag when they are under stress from a load. It is typically a sign that the rack is overloaded. If the beams are damaged, the racks may no longer support the weight of the pallets, causing the beams to deflect or tilt toward each other.

Although some deflection is acceptable, if you notice the beams sag or bow significantly after unloading, they may need to be repaired or replaced. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) advises that vertical beam deflection while pallets are loaded shouldn’t exceed the length of the beam, divided by 180. This formula can be used by warehouse management and workers to determine beam safety.

Ensure racks are straight and plumb

When pallet rack columns lean, they are considered out-of-plumb. When racks bow or sag excessively, they are out-of-straight. These issues are usually caused by:

  • Changes in beam height or configuration
  • Change in connections
  • Loose bolts or connectors
  • Impact with handling equipment, machinery, or forklifts
  • Overloading of warehouse racks

Out-of-plumb or out-of-straight racking has a diminished load capacity. If either of these problems is detected, unload your pallet racks immediately to avoid a potential accident. Identify the source of the issue, such as beam height changes, loose connectors, or a storage bay overload, and repair or replace the components immediately.

Used Pallet Racking Systems

Don’t forget the smaller components

Although the major health and safety issues sources stem from beams and racks, don’t ignore the smaller components. These are integral in keeping racking upright and stable. Monitor the condition of components such as screws, nuts, bolts, bracing, base plates, anchor bolts, and spacers.

Rust is a red flag, and it can indicate serious structural damage. Ensure employees report any signs of rust, corrosion, or damage to large and small pallet rack components.

Warehouse sprinklers

OSHA enforces strict policies on warehouse sprinkler systems. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that there are on average 1,410 warehouse fires annually, resulting in fatalities, injuries, and over $159 million in property damage. OSHA and the NFPA came together to raise awareness of the dangers of pallet racking systems.

Depending on the type of racking and products you store, the requirements can vary. All sprinkler systems must have enough clearance between the lowest hanging water dispersal unit and the top of the rack. They should also offer appropriate discharge patterns and water flow. Annual water flow tests can help ensure compliance.

Apart from inspecting the sprinkler positioning and performance, you must also check the connected piping and plumbing. Any connected pipes should be protected from freezing and provide adequate drainage.

Maintaining the Condition of a Pallet Rack System

Whether you have a cantilever racking system for bulky items or a selective racking system that maximizes vertical space, here are some tips for maintaining your racks year-round.

Install barriers and protection

Barriers and protectors help keep your racks and inventory safe and free from damage from forklifts or dollies. At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we provide a wide variety of protective equipment, from bracket protectors to column guards.

Our custom guide rails can help reduce frequent forklift damage by steering drivers away from vulnerable posts or beams. They are available in different angles and lengths, ensuring they fit the needs of your warehouse.

Purchase high-quality replacement parts

We stock an extensive range of new and used storage equipment, from entire systems to replacement parts. Whether you need to replace damaged footplates or your rack uprights are out-of-plum, you can find quality replacement parts on our online catalog.

If you need to install new decks, we supply decking in different materials and sizes, ensuring you can store pallets safely and efficiently. Our all-welded steel rack decking can support loads of up to 3,000 lbs, making it a good option for heavy-duty materials.

Label racks

Clearly labeling racks helps avoid confusion within your facility, which may lead to overloading or incorrect load distribution. Place durable labels on all racking systems, displaying important information such as weight capacity, product positioning, forklift access, and the number of items they can support.

Upgrade Your Pallet Racking System

If your storage system doesn’t pass an inspection or you’re repairing and replacing components very frequently, it’s time to upgrade your pallet racking. At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we provide high-quality storage equipment, and our experienced design team can help you plan your warehouse layout.

Contact us to discuss your needs, and we can recommend a series of options, depending on your budget and requirements. Once you choose the right system, we can handle the installation, ensuring your racks are safe and OSHA compliant. Give us a call today at (800) 589-7225.