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Avoid Pallet Rack Collapses With These Crucial Tips

by April Carlson

There are countless viral videos on the Internet of pallet racking systems suddenly collapsing, usually due to existing structural weaknesses, improper installation or collisions due to operator error on part of forklift drivers. When a collapse happens, the devastation isn't just limited to damaged and destroyed merchandise -- workers can also be seriously injured or worse. Fortunately, there's plenty that can be done to prevent pallet rack collapses from happening.

Make Driver Training a Priority

The best way to prevent pallet rack collapses from happening is to make sure all of your employees, especially your forklift drivers, are thoroughly trained in how to operate in and around pallet racking systems. For instance, drivers should understand how to prevent damage when turning with or without a load, as well as how and when to report accidents or suspected damage.

Speed limits should also be in place to reduce the likelihood of speed-related accidents. Drivers should also be aware of these speed limits at all times.

Always Conduct Regular Inspections

Pallet racks see plenty of stress and strain throughout their life, whether it's from ordinary use, forklift collisions or improper loading. Properly trained personnel should conduct regularly scheduled inspections of all pallet racking systems. Inspectors should pay close attention to the following areas:

  • Loading beams should be inspected for signs of lateral and vertical deflection. Most experts recommend replacing beams that bow more than 1/180th of the entire beam length.
  • Footplates should have all of their bolts and fasteners accounted for and anchored securely to the floor. The surrounding floor should also be free of damage.
  • The horizontal bracing should be free of any structural damage, including twists and bends.
  • The entire structure should be free of any rust or corrosion. Any present rust or corrosion should be corrected before the rack is placed back into service.

In addition to regular inspections by your trained personnel, you should also have an outside expert conduct thorough inspections of your pallet racking systems. Not only does it add peace of mind for your warehouse operations, but it can also verify the overall effectiveness of your in-house inspectors.

Take a Proactive Approach to Replacement and Repairs

If there's any damage found on the pallet racking system, it should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Keeping a structurally damaged rack in service could prove far more expensive in the long run than taking proactive steps to repair the problem or replace the damaged structure.

Make Improvements to the Forklifts Themselves

In addition to driver training, you should also invest in improvements that enhance forklift safety and reduce the likelihood of collisions. For instance, painting the tips of each set of forklift forks can not only enhance visibility for drivers while maneuvering, but it'll also leave tell-tale marks whenever damage occurs. Painting each fork set different colors can also help you track down specific operators assigned to the involved forklift.

Improving visibility can also help forklift drivers be more effective in avoiding pallet rack collisions. Installing wide-angle convex mirrors on the forklift as well as each aisle end gives drivers better visibility around their vehicles and at intersections. Increased lighting can also alleviate safety concerns caused by poor lighting.

Respect Rack Load Tolerances

Overloading can easily weaken pallet racking systems, setting the stage for a future collapse. You can prevent this from happening by having all racks properly labeled with their load tolerances. In addition to clearly defined load tolerance labels, drivers should also be trained to arrange loads according to their weight. For instance, heavier loads should be kept on the lowest rack levels to avoid overloading and stress-related damage on the pallet racking equipment.

Click here to continue reading more about properly using pallet racks in your warehouse. 

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