When it comes to your warehouse workers’ safety, one area to keep in mind is pallet racking safety. You have to be able to rely on your storage equipment day in and day out, so ensuring that pallet racking remains serviceable and safe is critical to your operations and workers’ safety. Simply relying on an annual rack safety inspection by an approved rack inspector is not enough. You also should conduct regular internal inspections each week, every other week, or once a month.
During these regular rack safety inspections, check for damage and defects to your pallet racking. You also can make sure that workers follow safety protocol when working on or near pallet racking, including following load capacity guidelines. Keeping our three pallet racking safety tips in mind during these inspections also is important to maintaining safe working conditions:
- Verify Pallet Racking is Labeled Correctly
- Inspect all Racking Frame Components and Accessories
- Properly Place and Manage Pallet Rack Loads
1. Verify Pallet Racking is Labeled Correctly
Unfortunately, one of the most critical pallet racking safety tips is often the most overlooked: proper weight capacity labels. When your pallet rack system is properly labeled, workers immediately know the pallet rack capacity, exactly how to position loads, and how many items to place. This knowledge ensures the racking system’s strength and integrity. Something as simple as the right warehouse rack label gives everyone critical information at a glance and reminds them of the beam weight limits to create a safe storage environment.
When purchasing weight capacity labels, make sure they are made of durable materials so they have the same usable life as your racking. Most warehouses prefer polyester labels because they are more durable than paper labels. Polyester warehouse rack labels also feature permanent adhesive for lifetime adherence and graphic elements to eliminate any possible confusion for workers.
2. Inspect All Racking Frame Components and Accessories
Pallet rack systems have several components, including the front and rear posts, or uprights, baseplates, various braces, and beams. These components can sustain damage from forklifts, incorrect system construction, and incorrect pallet insertion, among other errors or accidents. To ensure pallet racking safety, inspect all system components and accessories regularly:
- Front and rear posts/uprights
- Floor fixing anchors
- Beam locks
- Column guards
- Anti-collapse mesh or netting
- Load notices/pallet racking system labels
It’s also imperative that you inspect the front and rear beams of your pallet rack system. In most cases, forklift truck forks cause damage to beams when workers misjudge the distance when collecting pallets or when the forks are longer than the pallet they insert. Also, be on the lookout for bending beams, or deflection. Some amount of deflection is normal, but if your workers overload your pallet racking system, your beams will exhibit excessive deflection. If your inspections reveal deflection, reposition your load or remove some of the load after ensuring the integrity of the beams.
While inspecting beams, don’t overlook beam locks. These devices prevent beams from inadvertently dislodging during regular loading and unloading. The locks may be made of plastic or metal, and they must meet SEMA Code. Replace any locks that are broken or missing.
Finally, check your pallet racking system accessories for damage. These accessories are optional, but damage to them can indicate improper forklift operation or highlight damage to other system components.
3. Properly Place and Manage Pallet Rack Loads
Any pallet racking system that is loaded improperly or that is overloaded is unsafe. Workers must be trained in loading pallet racks and ensuring loads are placed properly, and warehouse managers must continuously manage racks for size and weight. Remember, items placed on pallets should be tied and secured properly to prevent movement, damage, or injury.
Begin by ensuring everyone knows the pallet rack’s capacity before loading it. All weight capacities should be verified and labeled properly. Ensure that workers pay special attention to weight capacity for upper levels and that they store the heaviest loads in lower levels or on the floor. Warehouse managers also should slot storage so that light pallets are in high bays and heavy pallets are in lower bays, particularly with mixed loads.
Effective warehouse storage also entails avoiding incorrect or unsafe rack loading. Workers must understand that loading pallet racks goes beyond weight versus structure. They must know how to account for dimensions, shape, and size or density of the load and the way in which it will sit on storage racks. Train workers to be aware of the types of loads that will sit on wire decks, how they will sit, and how they could affect the rack capacity. These loading concerns should be at the forefront of warehouse managers’ minds each day as well.
Pallet racking safety is crucial for workers’ well-being and efficient operations. As such, warehouse managers should regularly inspect their racking systems to be proactive in preventing collapses and injuries. During these regular inspections, check for damage and defects while also ensuring that workers are properly loading the racks and operating the forklifts to prevent damage.