5 Tips to Ensuring Rack Safety
When driving a forklift, safety must come first. But safety isn’t just about the driver or the truck. In a warehouse, dockyard or other job site, many factors can compromise safety. This includes racks, shelves and other product storage areas. When items aren’t properly secured on racks, accidents can happen at any job site. That’s why every warehouse safety plan should include pallet rack safety regulations.
Pallet Rack Safety: The Basics
There’s more to pallet rack safety than just putting up a bunch of sturdy racks and shelving. These factors should be considered when choosing the racking for your work site:
Get the right pallet racks for your job site. The safest racks are those that are designed for the type of items in your warehouse. For example, do you have mostly small, light items or large, heavy ones? Do you store items of all shapes and sizes? Does your warehouse have limited space so that you need tall racks and shelving? Choosing racking that fits your unique storage needs will enhance safety for all.
Install your pallet racks with safety in mind. Your rack may have plenty of room to safely hold a few pallets. But will anything interfere with product placement or removal? Avoid placing racking directly under sprinkler systems, lights, and other ceiling hazards when possible. If not, place pallet racking safety signs where they can be easily seen by forklift drivers. Forklift accidents are often caused when drivers focus too much on the rack and not enough on surrounding structures. With a warehouse safety plan in place, you’ll always know where the ceiling hazards are.
Know your rack’s top load capacity. An overloaded rack is an unsafe rack, and should be avoided at all costs. Always err on the side of caution with maximum loads. If you’re not sure how much a rack can hold, don’t put your cargo on the rack until you find out. If you have room on other racks, place items there rather than exceeding a rack’s weight limit. Do this even if you have to put like items in different areas. Just be sure that people know where to find them.
Use caution when placing and removing loads. Many forklift accidents occur when lifting and lowering loads. Careless cargo handling also can add to the daily wear & tear on your racks. This is where forklift training can help. It teaches many vital skills, including:
- The correct way to lift and lower loads
- The signs of an unbalanced load
- The correct way to position loads on the forks
- Hazards to watch out for when placing or removing product
Perform regular rack maintenance. Just like your forklift, racks require routine safety checks. In fact, scheduled rack maintenance is a key part of any pallet rack safety program. Some things to look for include missing hardware (screws, bolts, etc.), rust, and other missing parts. If you spot damage that could compromise safety, the rack should be taken out of service until repaired or replaced. Always place a pallet racking safety sign on the damaged rack until it is repaired.
Report any structural damage. Structural damage can compromise pallet rack safety, even if it’s minor. If your rack has a dinged support post or some other visible damage, report it right away.
Keep in mind that not all rack safety issues from structural damage or accidents will shut down your warehouse operations. Pallet rack safety clips can help stabilize any rack that becomes dislodged. Buy some today and increase your rack safety quotient!
Pallet Racking Safety Audits
OSHA pallet rack safety regulations require employers to inspect storage rack systems on a regular basis. The inspections should be performed by a person with knowledge of storage rack design and installation. Some companies train a worker to handle this job. Others hire a pallet rack safety inspection firm. Either way, the racking should be inspected at least once a year.
When doing a pallet racking safety audit, focus on four key areas:
- Plumb and straight. The maximum vertical out-of-plumb ratio for a loaded rack is “rack height in inches divided by 240.” Measure rack height from the centerline of the column upright at the floor to the centerline of the column upright at the top of the shelf.
- Visible rust or corrosion. Rust can be a sign of weakened metal. Scraped paint may mean the rack suffered a collision. When this occurs, check for plumbness and straightness of the upright columns.
- Load capacity. Post the frame capacity chart at the end of each aisle. If you modify the racking, change the placards to display the new racking specs.
- Beams, upright columns and foot plate/anchors can be frequently damaged. Deformed or cracked beams should be replaced. Columns with rips or tears beyond the manufacture’s limits should be repaired or replaced. Footplates twisted more than 6” need to be repaired. Also look for loose, sheered, or missing anchors.
Protect People and Product With Pallet Rack Safety Barriers
Many warehouses use pallet rack safety barriers as a safety measure. There are two basic types: panel guards and safety netting. Panel guards provide a barrier between warehouse stock and job site hazards. They are designed to protect inventory and prevent injury to workers.
Safety netting systems protect racked items from falling and injuring workers below. These pallet rack safety barriers attach directly to the racking using zip ties and brackets. They are often used on the upper level aisles in retail stores to protect customers from bad racking or loose items. They are also used under pallet flow lanes in pick modules, and under carton flow systems to catch boxes.
Pallet Rack Safety Regulations and Training
Safety training is essential in a warehouse work setting. Once your company has an OSHA approved forklift training program in place, you’re better equipped to handle:
- Rack safety
- Warehouse safety
- Injury/accident avoidance
- Forklift safety
- And much more
For more on how to properly secure forklift loads and become a safer forklift driver, check out all of our training classes. ForkliftCertification.com can get you started today with OSHA-compliant courses. We have three training packages to choose from, so you’ll enjoy customized content for your role. Whether you’re looking to enhance your pallet rack safety or warehouse safety procedures and policies, ForkliftCertification.com is here to help
To sign up now, please call our forklift training specialists at (888) 278-8896. Or, check out the Forklift Certification contact page. We look forward to assisting with your pallet rack safety program ASAP.