Workers can face many dangers in a warehouse, whether it be from fire, misuse of equipment, or hazardous inventory. But one of the most critical safety hazards comes from the racking systems that occupy the warehouse floor—each has the potential to cause serious injury to nearby workers.
Your pallet rack systems can fail in any number of ways, and knowing the common reasons for warehouse racking collapse will give you the knowledge to prevent those situations from happening. Be aware of what goes on in your facility and whether or not the structural stability of your racks poses immediate risks.
Damage From Forklifts
One of the most common causes of pallet rack collapse comes from the use of forklifts and other such vehicles on the warehouse floor. These pieces of machinery can weigh thousands of pounds and can travel up to 18 miles per hour, making them dangerous in enclosed environments. Their weight and speed can inadvertently turn them into battering rams when operated by less experienced employees or ones who are not paying adequate attention to their surroundings.
The support beams of pallet racks can be highly susceptible to collisions with forklifts. Any kind of damage done to them results in the overall structure becoming weakened. The design of the racks is such that any sort of imperfection, such as a dent from a vehicle, puts the entire rack in jeopardy of failure.
Implement Safety Strategies
Because of the danger that forklift damage presents, you must take the necessary steps to prevent such an event from occurring, or at the very least put measures in place to mitigate the damage. First, start by ensuring there’s enough clearance for forklifts to safely make turns without clipping the edges of racks.
Install mirrors at intersections and corners for drivers to look in; this additional vision of their surroundings will enable them to check that they have adequate clearance when making turns. Using mirrors will allow them to see the forklift from angles, which will make driving and maneuvering easier.
Increasing visibility with mirrors is a popular safety measure, but you also need to ensure that drivers can see where they are going. There can be spots in your facility where light levels are low, and this can make for a dangerous situation. Inspect areas where forklift operators drive and determine if the light levels are good enough for drivers to spot obstacles in their way.
Overloading Shelving Units
Shelves can only hold so much weight, and once they pass a certain threshold, they fail. The manufacturers determine what weight a rack system can safely hold. The weight decided upon should be common knowledge, not just to management, but to every employee working on the floor and storing inventory.
Lack of Knowledge Leads To Disaster
Employees who are in charge of storing materials on pallet racks need to know what the recommended weight limit is for each shelf. Knowing the weight limit allows them to properly judge how much inventory can be kept on a single shelf, preserving the entire rack system. Overloading one shelf, which then collapses, compromises the structure of the whole rack.
Post Weight Limits
It’s not enough to tell your workers the weight limit; you must have it posted everywhere. These signs will serve to constantly remind them that they only have so much weight to work with on any given shelf. With these reminders in place, no one will have an excuse to overload a rack with material.
Incorrect Installation of Racks
Racks are more than just shelves stacked on top of one another. They are meticulously designed and perfected to hold a certain weight limit, but incorrect and faulty installation can compromise the entire structure. Every component within a rack system, from the decking to the support struts to even the individual screws, work together to make the rack safe.
Rack installation can become unsafe if you decide to substitute some of the components with different equipment. In these cases, when you substitute parts, they may not have the exact specifications that the design calls for. Using a screw that can withstand 50 pounds of pressure isn’t adequate when the design calls for a screw that must hold 100 pounds.
Other than incorrect installation, you also need to consider the correct application for racks and shelves. For example, installing pallet rack wire decking requires knowledge on what types of loads you intend to store on them. The strength needed may change based on how heavy the material is, and investing in a weaker material for the decking can quickly end in collapsing shelves.
Wear and Tear
Every piece of equipment will need maintenance at some point or another, and the same is true for your pallet racks. Over the course of years, your racks may rust, corrode, or sustain damage that can build up over time. They may not be immediately dangerous, but they can snowball into something that poses a threat to the safety of workers.
Repair and Replacement Schedule
It’s essential to be on top of your rack’s maintenance and replace critical components whenever necessary. But it is crucial to keep in mind the necessity of replacing parts with one that the manufacturer deems suitable. As mentioned, substituting equipment can lead to collapse.
Always Be Aware of Your Rack’s Limitations
Your rack system is not indestructible; you need to acknowledge that it can easily collapse if you apply certain pressures to it. When you order a rack, you must know how much weight it can support and whether vehicles can safely maneuver around it.
It would be best if you also thought of the long-term care of your racks. They’ll eventually deteriorate, and the stress they could handle when they were first installed may prove to be too much for them after a certain amount of time. Failing to take care of your racks properly can end in the destruction of company property, such as ruining the inventory. Or, more notably, it could result in workers sustaining severe bodily harm, which can be fatal in the worst of circumstances. Rack Safety Products offers pallet rack protection and repair solutions. Reach out to extend the life of your pallet racks.