For as useful and practical as pallet racking can be, they can pose some pretty specific safety hazards to your workers and your products.
Sadly, it comes with the territory. The items stored on pallet racks are, by design, a lot heavier and bulkier than others, and the movement, transport, and storage of these items require extra steps of preparation and foresight to prevent any injury or damage. If your warehouse utilizes pallet racks to store bigger items and you want to know what to look out for, here’s the five most common safety issues encountered by pallet racks:
An easily preventable cause of damage to pallet racks, not to mention potential injury to workers, is misaligned or improperly installed racks. During installation make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter to make sure all racks are aligned, flush, and level, and make sure everything is connected properly – you’d be surprised how fast those smaller connectors can get mixed up or installed incorrectly.
Loose floor fittings:
In a similar vein, the constant weight and movement of product on pallet racks means the anchor plates on the bottom of every rack can come loose very quickly. Secure these plates down with heavy anchor bolts and frequently recheck them to make sure they stay in place and don’t need replacement or re-tightening.
Depending on the size and depth of your pallet racks, there’s always a chance of pallets overhanging the edge of the racks. While this doesn’t pose an inherent risk if your workers are aware of it and work to minimize the effects, this awareness is crucial. Make sure any pallet overhang is up to the manufacturer’s standards (including weight limits) and in situations where the pallets don’t perfectly interlock, employ shrink wrap to keep all skids together and prevent product movement or damage.
Improper use of racks:
Now, we’re all sure you know what pallet racks are for and why you’d use them, but even something like not understanding weight limits can constitute an “improper use”. Follow all manufacturer’s guidelines to the letter to make sure weight limits aren’t exceeded, the proper materials and tools were used for installation, and make sure to follow any recommended guidelines for storage (material type, pallet dimensions, etc) to make sure the racks are being used to manufacturer specifications.
Properly trained forklift usage:
Forklifts are an integral part of safe and correct pallet usage, and making sure your forklift operators understand the weight limits of both their individual forklifts and the pallets they’re moving items to is an important step in protecting your items from damage and your workers from injury. Many pallet racks are designed to withstand an occasional collision but repeated damage will wear the racks down with time and may cause them to become unusable.
By following these steps, your pallet racks should remain secure, durable, and usable for years to come.