Pallet Racking Safety Guide by Industrial Man Lifts
Improper pallet racking safety presents a large liability for your organization if such actions lead to an accident. Improper shelving and stacking are common warehouse issues which are not always addressed as well. If your warehouse is not in compliance with the current OSHA standards and regulations, then you risk numerous consequences.
Always refer to the current OSHA standards for warehouse racking. Do not solely rely on guides that are found on the internet.
What Are the 3 Primary Standards to Follow?
OSHA covers warehouse racking safety under Section 1910.176, parts A, B, and C. Here are the elements of what these three standards cover.
- Part A: When mechanical handling equipment is being used, there must be a safe and sufficient clearance for aisles, loading docks, and doorways. There must be safe and sufficient clearance for wherever a passage is required or turns must be made. All passageways must be kept clear of obstructions and in good repair. No obstructions across an aisle or within an aisle that would create a potential hazard is allowed. All permanent passageways must be marked appropriately.
- Part B: The storage of materials must not create a hazard of any type. All material types must be stored in such a way that they are limited in height and their stacks are stable and secure. Items that are stored in tiers which are blocked, stacked, or interlocked must not be able to slide or collapse.
- Part C: All storage areas within the warehouse racking system must be kept free of debris, materials, or hazards that may cause fire, tripping, or explosive events. Pests must be appropriately managed within the facility. Vegetation control is also mandatory.
It is important to note that these three primary standards are in place to limit the potential of an injury. Almost 35,00 people suffer an injury in the United States every year while working with warehouse racking systems, with nearly 100 incidents proving to be fatal.
Following these guidelines will minimize the risks that your warehouse will face.
Practical Safety Tips for Warehouse Pallet Racking Systems
Basic comprehension is going to support a safer work environment within your warehouse. Many incidents tend to occur because the individuals involved became complacent or were unaware of the safety requirements in their facility.
By remembering that warehouse racks can be dangerous, you will reduce the risk of them being overloaded or misused in some way. That often leads to a lower risk of the racking system experiencing an impact incident.
Here are additional safety tips which will allow you to approach safety from a practical standpoint.
1. Know why you want a warehouse racking system in the first place.
When your racking system is designed to meet your exact needs, then it can be installed in a way that helps it to remain stable and safe. This must be followed up with proper training of all employees to ensure everyone understands its overall operational characteristics. If you are using a system that you didn’t install, then find the specs for it and enforce its capacity ratings without compromise.
2. Defend the ends and corners of your aisles.
Using post protectors and high-quality steel guardrails can give your racking system another layer of defense against an impact incident. If you do install guardrails, make sure that they are placed about 2 feet from the front of the rack.
3. Inspect your racking system regularly.
Many accidents with these systems are directly attributed to a general lack of oversight. Over time, the bolts which hold racking systems to the floor of your warehouse begin to loosen as items are stacked and unstacked. Have them inspected monthly to ensure this isn’t happening, or sooner if the regulations require it. Your boltless beams must always be secured to the rack. Inspect any rivets for movement and use safety clips where necessary.
4. Remember proper load placement procedures.
Your stacks should always be placed on the correct beams. They should be placed square, with uniform weight distribution on all sides.
5. Stay within your listed capacity.
In a small warehouse, it is pretty easy to maintain weight capacity limits. In larger warehouses, there must be a series of regulations, documentation, and employee training to ensure the pallet racking system is being properly used. Always have the capacities of the racking systems posted to prevent exceeding them inadvertently. Make sure that you post beam capacity and upright capacity figures.
6. Use wire guards or netting.
If there are areas of regular foot traffic, then it is a good idea to guard the bays of your warehouse racking system. Wire guards are a solid choice. Installing safety netting is an option to consider as well.
7. Replace racks which become damaged.
You’ll save more money over time by replacing damaged racks. Risking an injury or accident might seem like a cost-savings measure immediately, but it eventually comes with a price. As part of the inspection process, make sure that you are looking for impact damage. If you find damage, unload the racks, take down the system, and then install the new beams or uprights that you need.
Be Aware of the Potential for Natural Events
Safety with warehouse racking systems must also account for natural events. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and heavy winds may all impact the stability of your racking system if the unexpected occurs. Make sure that you use the appropriate installation methods, which may include larger footplates, to meet all local, regional, and national safety regulations or procedures.
By taking some time to talk about accident prevention, working with a warehouse racking system can be a safer experience. Always review the current OSHA regulations to ensure that your facility is in compliance. Keep your employees trained on safety procedures, then update that training regularly.
Most importantly, remember to use your common sense. If something seems unsafe, then say something. If it looks unsafe, then do something about it. Whether you have a small facility or one that is quite large, better safety begins at ground level.
We hope you find this information useful. Always remember to verify any information you have read directly on OSHA’s website.