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Pallet racks are excellent storage and organization solutions for warehouses of all sizes. Pallet racking offers a convenient and highly economical way of storing and accessing pallets and is typically simple to configure. That said, pallet racks require anchoring and regular inspections to minimize the likelihood of dangerous accidents. Pallet racks have to be anchored due to too much or uneven weight distribution, individual workplace requirements or local building codes. Learn more about pallet rack anchoring requirements, the best way to secure warehouse racking and tips for conducting regular inspections of your pallet rack system.
Do Pallet Racks Have to Be Anchored?
There is a difference between whether pallet racks should be anchored and whether they have to be. In short, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not specifically list anchoring as a requirement, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t advisable or necessary.
Risks of unsecured pallet racks include:
- Lack of organization
- Possible violation of local building codes
- Lost and damaged product
- Costly repairs
- Injury or death to personnel
To avoid these risks, work with the manufacturer or a pallet rack professional to install and anchor your racking system properly.
OSHA Pallet Rack Anchor Requirements
OSHA does not explicitly instruct warehouses on how to secure pallet racks — so does pallet racking need to be bolted to the floor? The short answer is yes. Although OSHA has no set standard for anchoring pallet racks, many consider anchoring to fall under one or both of the following standards:
- Materials shall not create a hazard for employees: The OSHA General Duty Clause Section 5(a)(1) states all employers are required to provide a safe workspace for their employees, which includes securing hazards that could cause death or serious harm. Due to the size and weight of an average loaded pallet rack, proper anchoring is essential for the wellbeing of all employees. This standard can also be applied to regular pallet rack inspections and adhering to weight limits to promote ongoing safety.
- All materials in tiers shall be secured: In most warehouse environments, pallet racks are stacked high with products that could cause serious harm if racks were to collapse. OSHA Construction Standard 1910.176(b) requires that all materials stacked in tiers be racked, blocked or otherwise secured to prevent hazardous falling, sliding or collapse.
Even without implicit instruction, anchored pallet racks are imperative to the safety of your warehouse employees and products.
Tips for How to Secure Warehouse Racking
The best method for anchoring your pallet rack depends on several factors, including:
- The age and type of pallet rack system you have
- The weight limit and load capacity of each rack
- Warehouse environment, including floor material and layout
- Specific pallet rack manufacturer requirements
To anchor warehouse racking securely, you need to have an action plan, understand and abide by all manufacturer instructions and check that all fittings are tight.
Make a Plan
Before installing your warehouse racking system, have a design plan in place. If your warehouse is large enough, you might consider working with an engineer to determine the best way to use the space. As you draft your initial plan, consider the following:
- Do you plan to use new or used pallet racks?
- What additional storage solutions will you incorporate into your warehouse, such as shelving?
- What local building codes must you follow?
- Would adjustable pallet racks make sense for your space?
- What are the dimensions of the space, taking into account any overhead ducts and lightning?
- Are you leaving plenty of space on either side of the pallet racks for safe walking and convenient forklift access?
- Do you require aisle protection for additional safety?
- What is the distance from your unloading spot to the pallet racking system?
You should also have an ongoing training plan in place to teach workers and management the proper way to use pallet racking. Improper use of a pallet rack could result in serious injury and loss of product. Train all current employees on proper storage procedures, including how to store and secure items on the racks, how to retrieve items manually or with a forklift and any unsafe actions they should avoid engaging in when near the storage racks. This training plan should include instructions for maintaining the weight limit on each rack and avoiding overhang.
For a more streamlined process, implement a labeling and records system. Label each storage rack with durable labeling material, so it is easier to find and retrieve the goods there. Keep a record system of any incidents, concerns or suggestions from workers. There should also be a warning and consequence system in place for workers who fail to use pallet racks responsibly.
Each new employee should be trained on these procedures, and training should be updated and reengaged as any changes or issues arise.
Follow Manufacturer Instructions
All pallet racking and storage systems come with instructions from the manufacturer, which include the weight limit, installation instructions, safety recommendations and other useful information. Because each manufacturer designs and crafts racks differently, it is essential that you follow these instructions and refrain from do-it-yourself solutions or shortcuts. By following all manufacturer instructions, you ensure a level, stable installation and operate within any potential warranties. If you combine pallet racks and storage solutions from multiple manufacturers, follow instructions included with each. If you have opted for a used pallet rack system, do your best to find installation protocol and anchoring recommendations on the manufacturer’s website. You can also use a rack ID guide to help you figure out what kind of equipment you are working with.
These manufacturer instructions are where you will find specific requirements and recommendations for how to secure pallet racking to the floor, including the best method for anchoring and what supplies you should use.
Once your racking system is installed, take time to tighten all fittings and anchors — including those on the beams, floor racks and decking — before you begin using racks for storage. This final step will cover any areas that may have been neglected during the initial installation. Make a point to inspect and tighten these same fittings regularly, as they may loosen as the products are moved on and off of the racks each day.
Consider installing pallet rack accessories that can protect your system and minimize how often you need to repair or replace parts.
Inspecting Your Pallet Rack Systems for Security
Regularly scheduled inspections are crucial for the longevity of your pallet rack system and the safety of your employees. Here is what you need to know about pallet rack inspections:
Who Should Perform the Inspection
The owner or manager of warehouse operations is responsible for implementing and adhering to a regularly scheduled inspection plan, which a qualified person should conduct. OSHA defines a “qualified person” as a person with a degree, certificate or professional standing or someone who has extensive knowledge, training and experience, as well as a successful demonstration of the ability to solve and resolve problems related to the type of work in question. Someone qualified to inspect a pallet racking system includes professional pallet rack installation services and providers, or representatives from the racking manufacturer.
In addition to a regular inspection conducted by a qualified person, designate a manager or team of employees to be responsible for performing regular, self-guided inspections. The safety officer should be trained to know which areas to inspect, as well as proper protocol if something needs to be repaired or replaced. By incorporating self-inspections into your maintenance routine, you can identify potential issues or areas for concern before they grow into more costly or hazardous problems later on.
When to Perform Inspections
Depending on the type of inspection and the specific situation, inspections should be performed at regular intervals, including:
- Weekly walkthroughs: Each week, the safety management officer or team should conduct a thorough walkthrough of the entire pallet rack storage area. They should visually inspect all areas listed below and document and report any concerns so you can correct them as soon as possible. Consider working with your professional inspector to create a checklist of areas your safety team should inspect when performing these weekly walkthroughs.
- Annual inspections: Schedule a professional pallet rack safety inspection at least once per year. Trained professionals have more experience and knowledge of rack system safety and may identify problems that your employees cannot. When scheduling a professional inspection, be prepared to answer a few questions about your warehouse, including dimensions, types of pallet racks installed, the name of your pallet rack manufacturer, other storage and shelving present and all current and former concerns.
- Post-damage inspections: Schedule a professional inspection immediately after any repairs, damage or safety incidents. Even minor dents can throw off the load balance of your racking system.
- After making changes: If your warehouse rearranges, restructures, downsizes or expands, schedule a follow-up inspection. Any time you move or adjust your rack system, it is imperative that key areas be re-inspected for safety and functionality.
Which Areas Should Be Inspected
These are the areas a professional inspector will check during an official inspection, and the areas where your you and a safety officer should pay close attention to during any self-checks:
- Bending and breakage: Visually assess whether all racks, beams and crossbars are straight and level without bowing, bending or breaking. Perform a closer inspection of possible bowed areas with a straightedge ruler. Some deflection is normal, but watch for signs of overloaded racks.
- Rust and corrosion: Note any spots of corrosion, rust or discoloration. If the corrosion is caused by water or excess moisture, take steps to fix the issue. If from friction or rubbing against other racks or pallets, all products should be reorganized and spaced to avoid future corrosion.
- Bolts and screws: Inspect that each screw and bolt is secure and not coming loose, and plan to replace any that have been damaged or removed.
- Anchors and bracing: Inspect the integrity of all anchors, baseplates and bracing and retighten as needed.
- Locks and connectors: Check that all beam connectors and safety locks are secure without visible damage.
- Netting and protectors: Inspect netting and protectors for breaks or corrosion, and make sure that any welding is intact.
- Unsafe modifications: Note any temporary modifications or quick fixes present, such as steel beams holding up racks. Temporary modifications are hazardous and must be corrected immediately.
- Labels: Check and replace any worn labels as needed. Note whether the labels are being used and if racks are organized according to product and weight. In addition to organizational labels, all racks should have load rating information clearly visible.
Repair and Replace as Necessary
Regular weekly and annual inspections are only the first steps in ensuring a safe workplace. For those inspections to be effective, you must take immediate action to repair, replace and correct all issues. Keep an organized record of all damage and repairs so you can track changes over time. If an inspector informs you of a potentially hazardous concern, cease operations in that area until the problem is remedied. A trained professional can help you decide whether a damaged rack requires a simple repair or an entire system replacement.
Some situations that may call for rack replacement include:
- Extensive damage, like heavy rust and bent or busted beams.
- Equipment that is outdated or no longer serves the needs of the warehouse and materials.
- The warehouse is expanding or downsizing, and storage racks need adjustment.
Otherwise, minor damage is usually a quick-fix. In some cases, your workday may not be impacted at all.
Visit T.P. Supply Co for Pallet Racking Products and Services
Anchoring and securing your pallet racking system is the best way to keep your employees safe and daily operations running smoothly. After installation and anchoring, be sure to schedule regular weekly and annual inspections of your racking system and make prompt repairs or replacements to avoid workflow interruption.
T.P. Supply Co has everything you need for pallet rack installation, including:
- Pallet rack uprights and beams
- Husky racks and wire
- Pre-configured and universal tear-drop systems
- Unarco interchangeable beams and uprights
- Double-slotted pallet racks
- Used and refurbished pallet racks for budget-conscious companies
- Wire mesh decking and pallet rack accessories
- Pallet rack installation and warehouse design services
In addition to pallet racks, T.P. Supply Co also offers material handling, safety and security, shelving and storage solutions.
If you have questions about securing your pallet rack systems or want to discuss a pallet rack installation or design consultation, contact our experienced staff today. You can also visit us online to learn more about T.P. Supply Co pallet racks, material handling and storage solutions, or use our customized quote tool to request a custom quote.