Pallet racking is a mechanical handling storage system that uses pallets to store products. There are different types of pallet racks. Palletized items can be stored on any type of pallet rack in horizontal lines with different heights. Today we will discuss pallet racking safety.
A pallet racking system is an excellent system compared to stacking pallets on top of other pallet approaches. Utilizing vertical space, the pallet racking system enhances the efficiency and storage of the warehouse.
However, not all warehouse managers take the appropriate steps to ensure their facilities are safe for usage. Many warehouse managers are negligent about the pallet racking safety system. Any negligence about the pallet racking system can cause a huge financial loss.
If safety precautions related to pallet racking are not used, pallet racks may collapse at any time. The collapse of a pallet rack can be disastrous for the warehouse’s reputation.
Taking preventive measures for pallet racking safety can help to avoid many disastrous accidents. In this article, we will specifically discuss the issues related to pallet racking safety. We will discuss the following things step by step:
This article will enlighten anyone who wants to know about racking safety issues in detail. This article will be especially helpful for the following groups of people:
- Warehouse managers and owners who want to increase their racking safety in the warehouse.
- Investigation officers who want to know how the rack collapse happens.
- Academicians and researchers who are studying pallet rack safety issues.
Various measures can be taken to ensure the safety of pallet racks. The methods that are used to ensure the safety of pallet racks are the pallet racking safety system. Applying pallet racking safety systems is highly recommended for warehouse owners.
Why Is Pallet Racking Safety Important In A Warehouse Environment?
Pallet rack systems were built to perform with excellence. It can support loads multiple times its weight.
Safety ought to be everyone’s top priority at all times when working in a warehouse. The safety of pallet racks also ensures the safety of employees and products in a warehouse. Now, we will elaborate on the importance of the safety of pallet racks in the warehouse:
Safety is one of the key issues while working in any environment. If the workers don’t feel safe while working, it will ultimately lead to the following scenarios:
- Decrease the productivity of the workers.
- Creates a toxic working environment.
- The rate of workers leaving the workplace and going to other workplaces increases. If the old workers frequently leave the business, it is a setback for the business. New workers need more time to adjust to the work environment.
- While hiring new workers, businesses will have to train them. Especially in a warehouse workplace, it takes a considerable amount of time to train workers. Training new workers mean the overall cost of the company goes up.
The scenarios mentioned above are harmful to any business. To avoid any kind of worker unrest or dissatisfaction, the company must ensure the safety of pallet racks. Ensuring the safety of pallet racks will ensure the worker’s productivity, satisfaction, and overall company growth.
In a warehouse, bulk quantities of products are stored. A company may store its products or any other company’s products in a warehouse.
If a warehouse rack collapses, the products or items may get destroyed. The destruction of the stored products is a loss for any company or business.
In addition, in a warehouse, racks are placed in rows and columns. So, racks can collapse one after the other. If the racks collapse one after the other, it will be a huge loss financially for the business.
So, warehouse owners should ensure the safety of pallet racks to ensure their products remain safe.
A reputation or goodwill is important for any kind of business. If somehow, the goodwill of a business gets affected, it will have serious consequences on its sales.
The goodwill of a company may get affected due to numerous reasons. The collapse of a rack may also affect the goodwill of the company. If the news of the rack collapse reaches people, it will create a negative impression of the company.
If the company’s goodwill gets affected, the business will suffer. A bad impression about the company may get created in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, many warehouse owners and managers don’t take the issue of goodwill seriously. How important the goodwill of a company is we may understand from the example of Uber.
Uber, the famous ride-sharing company, has to deal with allegations of a “Hostile work environment.” As a result of these allegations, Uber’s CEO had to step down, and their business was on a downfall.
One of the reasons Uber had to face backlash is the “Hostile work environment.” If any rack falls upon a worker in a warehouse, this may get counted as a “Hostile work environment.”
A company may have to face a huge setback if they are found with issues like these. So, to avoid damage to goodwill, warehouse owners should ensure the safety of the racks. Ensuring the safety of racks will prevent many accidents in the warehouse for sure.
A rack may collapse and fall on a worker in the warehouse. The worker gets injured. The worker may sue the business in court due to negligence of rack safety measures. If the company was found guilty of not taking safety measures, it’ll have to pay compensation.
Also, sometimes some warehouses keep the product of other companies in their warehouse. To simplify this issue, let’s follow the examples.
Company “A” is a big company which has a huge business of sanitary items. They have a warehouse where they store their products.
Company “B” is a small business of chemical products. They don’t have a warehouse. To cut down the operation cost of their business, they are using the company “A’s warehouse. Company “B” is also giving rent to company “A” as they are using company “A”s warehouse.
Due to the negligence of company “A”; two of their racks collapsed and fell upon one another. The two racks that collapsed were used to store the goods of Company “B.”
As a result of the rack collapse, some of the goods that company “B” stored get destroyed. Now, Company “B” may sue company “A” in a court of law for their negligence.
If any kind of negligence of company “A’’s is proved, company “A” will have to give a fine. In both the case worker’s injury or destruction of other company’s goods, the warehouse will have to pay.
Yes, we know accidents may happen despite taking all kinds of safety measures. So, one may ask, what is the benefit of taking such safety measures if an accident still happens?
Taking preventive measures doesn’t mean that warehouses can 100% avoid pallet racking collapse. Exceptional accidents may still take place in a warehouse despite all the safety measures.
However, if the pallet racking safety measures are properly implemented, the possibility of these accidents will drop significantly. For instance, Two friends run two companies under their first names “John Oil” and “Jacob Chemicals.”
Among these two companies “John oil” has taken all the measures for pallet racking safety. Whereas “Jacob Chemicals” are negligent about the safety measures for pallet racks.
Therefore, the possibility of occurring any accident in Jacob’s warehouse is higher than in John’s warehouse. Mathematically, it is like,
Possibility of racking collapse in Jacob’s Warehouse >> Possibility of racking collapse in John’s Warehouse.
If the rack collapses despite taking all the safety measures, John’s warehouse will not be held liable for that. So, It is always a wise and better decision to take safety measures to avoid unwanted incidents.
To elaborate Furthermore, in the following scenarios, John has taken all the safety measures to avoid accidents. Still one of his warehouse racks collapses and two of the workers get injured.
Now, in a court of law, John will not be held liable due to the accident of his workers. This is because the accident happened despite John taking all kinds of safety measures. So, John or his company can’t be held liable for that.
Now, if the same accident happens to Jacob’s warehouse, who is negligent about warehouse safety? If the court finds Jacob guilty of negligence, he’ll have to pay a heavy fine.
To conclude, a warehouse can easily avoid this kind of fine if they take adequate safety measures.
Therefore for the above-mentioned reasons, the safety of pallet racks is important.
Several things can disrupt the safety of pallet racks. Finding out these things that disrupt the safety of pallet racks is very important for their safety. Now, we will discuss in brief some of the things that disrupt the safety of pallet racks:
The racking system can hold weight up to a certain limit. If more weight is placed than its holding limit, the rack may break down. Overloading is one of the primary causes that disrupt the safety of pallet racks.
Sometimes in the United States and Europe warehouse owners face a shortage of workers. Also, sometimes it may happen that some old workers had left their job in the warehouse. In the circumstances like that, warehouse owners are forced to hire inexperienced workers.
These inexperienced or unskilled workers don’t have the proper knowledge to work in a warehouse. As a result, these workers may not know the appropriate method of issues like loading, unloading, etc.
Handling of pallet racks by these unskilled workers may cause pallet racks to fall. Warehouse managers should properly train their new workers to handle pallet racks properly.
Setting up a racking system needs knowledge, skills, and proper training. Installing a rack may seem to be very easy, but in reality, it’s not that easy.
Sometimes warehouse owners told their workers to set up the racking system to save money. Telling workers to set up the racks is not a wise decision at all. Because the workers may not be experienced in installing racks properly.
Sometimes the workers know how to install racks, but they don’t have the necessary tools to do it. The racks may collapse due to incorrect installation.
If you want to learn about the considerations related to pallet rack installation, please read Pallet Rack Installation.
In a warehouse, a forklift is a tool that is used to move goods from one place to another. A forklift can manage weights with excellence. It carries and lifts weights in a warehouse.
However, forklifts may get damaged in a warehouse for various reasons. If the forklift gets damaged and collides with racks, the racks may collapse as a consequence of it.
A rack has various components. If components like frames, anchor plates, etc face corrosion, the safety of pallet racks will be disrupted. The racks may collapse as a result of corrosion at these components.
Besides these reasons, there are some other reasons for which pallet racks may collapse, which include,
- Relocated Rack System.
- Breaking Of Beams Or Upright.
- Design error of a warehouse.
In this section, we have discussed the reasons that disrupt the safety of pallet racks in brief. If you want to know in detail the reason behind warehouse racks collapse, read warehouse racking collapse.
We know that for any warehouse to operate with efficiency, pallet tracking safety is very important. Several steps can be taken to ensure the safety of pallet racks. Now in this section, we will discuss the steps that should be taken to ensure the safety of pallet racks.
The first step to ensure the safety of pallet racks is to train the workers properly. Research suggests that businesses that invest in employee training see a rise in revenue compared to those that don’t. About the training, the famous author Publius Flavius said,
“Few men are born brave. Many become so through training and the force of discipline.”
Employee engagement is facilitated by focused training in a warehouse. The more training the workers receive, the more they will become efficient and competitive in their work. Efficient and competitive workers are significant for the success and growth of the company.
To keep the racking system safe, the workers must be trained in rack functions. Sometimes, warehouse owners ignore the training part of the workers. Ignoring the training part of the workers can result in the collapse of the racking system.
Besides racking safety issues, there are lots of other benefits of training a worker properly. Offering training programs aids employees in feeling valuable at the organization. It also develops loyalty among the workers which eventually leads to an increase in worker retention.
The training of warehouse workers must cover the issue of employee safety. Workers should be properly trained about any safety issues that may arise as a result of rack collapse.
The workers should also be trained in matters related to the safety of the goods. For instance, if a rack collapses accidentally, how can the goods inside the pallet be kept safe?
The safety of goods is an essential thing in the warehouse. If the pallet rack consists of flammable products, workers should be specifically taught to deal with it.
Training workers will save the warehouse from many racking-related accidents. Training the workers properly ensures the minimum damage to the products in case of accidents.
Another important part of the warehouse worker’s training is the usage of warehouse machinery. There are many different types of machines in the warehouse. Workers who will operate them must receive proper training on how to operate those machines.
For instance, forklift operators should get training on all repair and safety issues linked to forklift usage. Warehouse workers who haven’t received adequate training should not operate forklifts.
To reduce injuries, all warehouse workers should receive training in appropriate pushing and lifting techniques. Additionally, employees need to get training on chemical storage, and damage reporting if relevant.
Every year employees should undergo training sessions. Warehouse managers should try to retrain several people at once rather than picking out specific personnel.
This is a relatively easy step that is frequently skipped. Although racks are sturdy, tall structures designed to hold our heaviest items, it is simple to overuse them. Pallet racking is intended to hold pallets that are fully loaded. They may theoretically support more weight than their capacity.
Warehouse owners shouldn’t load the pallet to its full capacity as a precaution. The only exception is when the warehouse is built with racks that can handle the extra weight.
Another important thing is warehouse managers should label the racks with their maximum load capacity. For instance, a rack can hold 2,000 pounds of weight. It should be clearly labeled on the rack that its maximum weight holding capacity is 2,000 pounds.
It is simple to miss a shelf’s load capacity, especially in warehouses that process large quantities of various items. Each pallet rack should have its maximum load restrictions properly marked, according to OSHA and ANSI safety rules.
OSHA stands for “Occupational Safety and Health Act.” ANSI stands for “American National Standards Institute.” OSHA states that the weight of goods that are stored must not go over permitted levels.
Similar-sized items are not always the same weight. To provide effective product flow, warehouse management must place a high priority on warehouse labeling. Workers shouldn’t load cargo onto a rack if they are unsure of the capacity of the rack.
Place items on other racks if there is space instead of overloading a rack. Even when workers have to place products in various locations, place items on other racks to avoid overload. Just make sure that other workers are aware of their location.
A racking system’s weight limit being exceeded is a disaster waiting to happen. At all costs, avoid using an unsafe rack that is overloaded. With maximum loads, always choose the side of caution. The racks can be kept from breaking down by using them properly.
There are typically four things to look out for when inspecting pallet racking systems:
- Load capacity.
- Plumb and straight.
Similar to the forklift, racks need regular safety inspections. Regular inspections of racks are necessary to make sure that safe activities are maintained. Managers can find evident symptoms of damage with the guidance of daily visual inspections.
Weekly and monthly rack inspections that are more thorough can catch more serious problems. Every warehouse should undergo a yearly professional inspection. A qualified person knowledgeable of the rack design should conduct the checks.
If you want to know more about pallet rack inspection, please read pallet rack inspection.
A qualified individual is defined by OSHA in 29 CFR 1910.21. (b),
“A person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.”
Workers should remove the rack from service until it has been repaired if they see any damage. Until the damaged rack is fixed, a safety sign should be placed on it.
Sometimes warehouse managers don’t have enough time to inspect regularly or weekly. It is also not possible to call out a professional to check racks weekly as it’ll be costly. In these circumstances, warehouse managers can train some of the workers for the inspection of racks.
Managers should train workers to keep an eye on every little thing of racks for inspection, which includes,
- Beam deflection.
- Missing safety pins.
Workers can be kept safe if rack problems are caught early enough. It will also limit costs and damage.
Badly installed racks increase concerns about safety in a warehouse. Shelving needs to be installed correctly for it to function as intended. Equipment that has been improperly installed is unsafe and could collapse under pressure.
A poor installation could prevent the appliance from supporting its maximum load capability. This will make the regular use of racks extremely dangerous.
Managers can install the racks for the workers only if the workers have the proper skills of doing it. Besides proper skills, the workers shall also have the necessary tools needed to install the racks.
If the workers don’t have proper skills in rack installation, it’ll be unsafe to install the racks by them. The warehouse’s safety is increased by hiring a professional to correctly install the racks. It lowers the possibility of shelf collapsing and aids in OSHA compliance.
The same holds if the racking system you use is improperly utilized. Pushback rack systems, for instance, operate very differently from conventional racking systems. To know more about different types of racking systems, read pallet racking types.
Warehouse managers should give their workers an order of reporting any rack damage whenever they see it. Even little structural rack deterioration jeopardizes the safety of the warehouse goods and workers.
If managers find any damage during inspections, replace it or fix it. Taking too long to address a problem with racking is a major sin. This is how difficulties get put off, forgotten about, and ultimately worsen.
So, warehouse managers should prioritize repairing the damaged racks. Also, a damaged rack can’t be utilized until it is repaired. So, it’s best for the efficiency of a warehouse to repair the rack as soon as possible.
Maintaining a clean environment and moveable space is also necessary for the rack’s safety. Two things can be done to keep a clean environment and moveable space in the warehouse. These two things are as follows:
Placement Of Racks Properly
The racks should be placed in such a way in the warehouse that it has enough space for movement. Sometimes the racks are kept too close to each other, which makes it difficult for workers to move.
If workers can’t move freely, neither can various machines like forklifts. This creates a chance of collision with the machine and the racks.
So, warehouse layouts shouldn’t be too congested. There should be enough space for both the machines and workers to move easily.
Keeping The Unnecessary Things Out Of The Warehouse
Warehouse floors should be kept empty as much as possible. Sometimes, when a good is loaded or unloaded, things like packaging cartoons are kept on the ground. These things should be cleared from the warehouse floor as soon as possible.
Also, the debris and trash should be kept out of the warehouse. Keeping trash like this out of the warehouse ensures free movement for machines like forklifts. The workers should remove any kind of barriers they come across.
Overall, warehouses should have moveable space to avoid any kind of collision of machines with racks.
There is some rack auxiliary equipment that can be used for added safety of the racks. This rack auxiliary gear increases the racking system’s stability. Using these rack auxiliary equipment can prevent the rack from collapsing.
Some of the rack auxiliary equipment that is used for added safety are as follows:
- Connection rods.
- Wire mesh decking.
- Column protectors.
These are the steps that warehouse owners and managers can take to ensure pallet racking safety.
OSHA is a federal organization of the United States of America. The full form of OSHA is the “Occupational Safety and Health Act” and it was passed in 1970. It is in charge of overseeing safety and health regulations in the USA.
OSHA has many sections that deal with various occupational safety concerns. Regarding the safety of pallet racks, OSHA has the following three sections:
“When using mechanical handling equipment, ensure there’s enough space and clearance in the aisles, at loading docks, and through doorways, especially where turns or passage is required.”
“Additionally, these passageways should be kept clear and in good condition, with no obstruction that could create a hazard. Permanent aisles and passageways should be marked too.”
“Any materials stored should not create a hazard. Items such as bags, bundles, etc., kept in tiers should be stacked, blocked, or interlocked. Also, limit how height you stack them so they are stable and secure, preventing sliding or collapse.”
“The storage areas should be kept free from the accumulation of things that can become hazards, either causing tripping, fire, explosions or attracting pests. Additionally, ensure vegetation growth is controlled.”
OSHA is a federal agency in the USA. So, warehouses located in the USA should follow the rules and regulations of OSHA.
Regarding warehouses located other than the USA, they are not bound to follow OSHA. However, if they follow the rules of OSHA, it is for their good.
For instance, take the example of section 176 (a) of the OSHA act. In our “Maintaining A Clean Environment And Moveable Space At The Warehouse”; we’ve discussed a similar thing.
Therefore, warehouse managers should follow OSHA’s pallet racking safety rules, which will help companies improve warehouse safety.
This is all you should know about pallet racking safety. If you have further questions about pallet rack safety, please contact us via the form below and we will be happy to assist you.