All pallet racks in all warehouses are subject to abuse; and pallet rack damage is no trivial matter. Repairing rack is costly, and replacing rack is even more so. Downtime is costly. Product loss is costly. And most importantly, damaged rack can result in serious injury to workers.

Although pallet racks can handle a lot of wear and tear, even the toughest racks are not immune to damage. It is imperative that warehouses have good safety protocols and damage prevention practices that will help prevent accidents and minimize damage. Here ‘s a look at the main sources of pallet rack damage and how you can prevent it.

3 Main Sources of Pallet Rack Damage

1. Forklifts are the leading cause of pallet rack damage. If the pallet rack has a fight with a forklift, the forklift will win every time. While immediate rack collapse is not highly likely, forklift impact can affect the rack ‘s structural integrity which could eventually lead to failure.

2. Improperly loaded racks are unfortunately common – and very dangerous. This includes unevenly distributed loads, as well as loads that are too heavy for the beam and/or and frame capacities.

3. Harsh environmental conditions can be a source of extreme wear and tear to your storage rack systems. Refrigerated or freezer storage, outdoor storage, and extremely wet conditions are some types of intense environments that can cause damage pallet racks.

How to Prevent Pallet Rack Damage

Employee training should be at the top of your list. Forklifts drivers should be certified and complete an OSHA-approved safety course annually. All warehouse employees should be trained and knowledgeable about the racking system and it ‘s maintenance.

Choose the proper racking capacity for what you intend to store. If you foresee your needs changing in the future, it might be prudent to invest in higher capacity racking than what you need now.

Choose the proper type of racking for your environment. Consider structural rack for cold storage, outdoor applications, and wet environments, or if you expect a lot of forklift abuse.

Ensure load ratings are clearly visible. Realize that capacity issues often arise when new SKUs are brought in. Be sure to check the weights of the new loads and confirm the capacities of your upright frames and beams.

Good visibility is important to forklift safety. Excellent lighting, mirrors, back up alarms, and other devices will all contribute to driver awareness, which is key to preventing forklift damage.

Aisle clearances are extremely important to forklift safety. An aisle that ‘s too narrow or an aisle cluttered with pallets will greatly increase the probability of an accident.

Rack protection products may involve an initial higher cost, but the damage these products can prevent is significant, making them quite cost efficient in the long run. Rack protection products include post protectors, end-of-aisle guards, and bollards, to name a few.

Implementing regular rack inspections is crucial to any warehouse safety strategy. In addition to annual inspections performed by qualified professionals, train your employees to perform frequent walk-throughs and visual inspections.

Repair or replace damaged components before a serious accident can occur. It should go without saying that damaged rack must be repaired or replaced immediately. Your regular professional and in-house inspections will help you to identify possible problems before it ‘s too late.

It does not take a crystal ball to foresee that accidents will happen. But with proper training, planning, and implementation of safety products and protocols, many accidents can be avoided.

Next Level is more than just a pallet rack manufacturer; we are your warehousing partner, offering a full range of material handling services, including equipment and safety audits nationwide.  Contact us to schedule a time to conduct a warehouse inspection based on OSHA regulations. Click here to learn more about Next Level Material Handling Services.