When running a warehouse, there are many things you need to take into account to keep your operation running smoothly and safely. One of the most critical factors in warehouse safety is the condition of your pallet racking.

Unfortunately, accidents involving pallet racks are not uncommon. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has estimated that pallet racks cause 25 percent of all warehouse accidents.

You can do several things to help prevent accidents and injuries in your warehouse, so let’s look at the ultimate guide to pallet rack safety.

What Is Pallet Racking?

Before getting into the guide, it’s essential to know precisely what pallet racking is. Pallet racking is a material handling storage system designed to store products and materials on pallets (or “skids”).

Pallet racks are commonly found in warehouses and manufacturing plants and work well in various storage applications. They provide a versatile storage solution that you can easily configure as your storage needs change.

Pallet Rack Basics

There are three standard pallet racks: selective, drive-in, and structural racks.

Selective racks are the most common type of pallet rack. They allow easy access to all stored items and offer a wide range of options in terms of sizes and configurations.

Drive-in racks allow for the storage of large quantities of similar items in a smaller footprint. They are well-suited for applications where space is limited, but access to individual items is not required.

Structural racks are the most robust and most durable type of pallet rack. They typically work best in heavy-duty applications where strength and stability are paramount.

Ways To Stay Safe in the Warehouse

There are a few key things you can do to help prevent accidents in your warehouse.

Regular Inspections

It’s essential to inspect your racks regularly. Look for signs of wear and tear, and make sure that all components fasten. Over time, racks can become damaged or loosened, so you need to catch any problems early. If you find any racks with damage beyond repair, you’ll need to buy new pallet racks to replace them.

Practice Proper Loading and Unloading Techniques

When loading or unloading pallets, always use proper techniques. For example, never try to catch a falling pallet with your body. Use a forklift or other lifting device instead. Always make sure to distribute the weight of the load evenly across the pallet and never overload a rack.

Keep Things Labeled and Organized

A well-organized warehouse is a secure warehouse. Ensure that all racks are clearly labeled and that pallets are stored correctly. This security will help to prevent confusion and accidental misuse of the racks. In addition, always make sure that aisleways are clear and free of debris.

Implement Safety Features

Several safety features can help prevent accidents in your warehouse. For example, wire mesh decking can help prevent items from falling off racks. Safety netting can also work to catch dropping items. In addition, column guards can help protect workers from being hit by falling pallets, and row guards can help prevent forklifts from accidentally driving into racks.

Common Pallet Rack Hazards

Many hazards are associated with pallet racks. These are some of the most common. 

Falling Items

One of the most common hazards associated with pallet racks is the risk of falling items. Falling happens by improper loading or unloading techniques, damaged racks, or overloaded racks.

Collapsing Racks

Another hazard associated with pallet racks is the risk of collapsing racks. Racks can collapse if they are damaged, overloaded, or improperly installed.

Injuries to Workers

Another hazard associated with pallet racks is the potential for injuries to workers. The last thing you want is falling items, collapsing racks, or improper loading and unloading techniques.

Property Damage

In addition to the risk of injuries to workers, pallet racks can also cause property damage. If a rack is not secured correctly, it can tip over and damage the products or equipment. In some cases, racks can even collapse, causing extensive damage to the facility.

Operational Efficiency

In addition to safety, pallet racks can also impact the operational efficiency of a facility. Poorly designed or improperly installed racks can make it difficult to access stored materials. This can lead to delays in production or other operations that rely on those materials.

You should work with a qualified pallet rack provider to avoid these problems. They can help you select the proper racks for your facility and ensure that you install them correctly.

OSHA Racking Regulations

Several OSHA regulations apply to pallet racks. These regulations cover everything from the design of the racks to the way they work.

There are a few key points to keep in mind when it comes to pallet racks.

  • All workers who use the racks must have appropriate training to accomplish their work safely.
  • You must follow the manufacturer’s instructions for rack installation.
  • Any damaged or defective racks must be repaired or replaced immediately.

OSHA Racking Fines for Violations

OSHA has issued some fines for pallet rack-related violations. These fines have been in the tens of thousands of dollars in some cases.

Some of the most common violations include:

  • Failing to design or install racks properly
  • Failing to provide adequate training to workers who use racks
  • Failing to inspect or maintain racks properly
  • Using damaged or defective racks

Pallet racks are a vital part of many businesses, but they can also be a source of safety and operational issues if you don’t use them properly. By following the tips in this guide, you can help ensure that your racks are safe and efficient. 

Warehouses can be dangerous places. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and never use damaged or defective racks. Using these tips can help you avoid some of the most common hazards.

MidSouth Material Handling can help you with all your pallet rack needs. We offer a wide variety of racks and installation and repair services. For more information or a free quote, contact us today to speak with one of our experts.

The Ultimate Guide to Pallet Rack Safety