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Pallet racking safety guide

Use the correct forklift

Pallet racking is an essential factor for successful warehouse storage and overall efficiency. In this busy environment, such structures must endure constant loading and unloading by mechanical handling machinery.

Yet no workplace packed with people and forklifts working within narrow aisles – all while surrounded by countless stacked products – can be considered free from danger unless you have a solid safety system in place.

Otherwise, pallet racking can collapse, damage stock, cause costly delays, and, most importantly, injure your staff.

With warehouses having one of the highest workplace fatality rates in Australia, it’s crucial to keep on top of safety protocols.

The good news? With the right pallet-racking resources, managers can minimise the risk of harm to employees, equipment and inventory.

In this article, we explain the main safety hazards of pallet racking and how you can help protect your people and products. Keep reading to learn the best practices for a safe warehouse storage system.

The most common pallet racking safety hazards to mitigate

Forklift collisions

Pallet racking can collapse for various reasons like poor setup, lack of maintenance, or overloading. However, forklift collisions are the number one cause.

While warehouse racks are built to withstand forklift impacts, continual damage to the same section can weaken the system’s structural integrity, potentially leading to a collapse. And a single collapsing rack can trigger the downfall of a whole aisle. Plus, even damage to one racking component could cause products to fall, injuring nearby workers.

After a forklift collision, check damaged frames to see if the system’s structural integrity has been affected. Significantly damaged frames must be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. To facilitate this speedy response, workers should be trained to report even the most minor impacts.

Lastly, don’t forget about handling equipment specifications during pallet racking installation. This information helps to ensure sufficient clearance for forklift operations.

Poor installation

is a major safety risk with pallet racking

Incorrect installation is a major safety risk with pallet racking. Thankfully, this hazard is easy to sidestep. To do this, make sure your warehouse storage system is installed by experienced and qualified pallet racking professionals with a proven track record.

During installation, the trusted team at Pallet Racking Sydney will ensure your system is correctly aligned, levelled, and mounted as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Human error

Misusing a pallet racking system for purposes it wasn’t made for is a serious pallet racking safety hazard. Proper staff training in the use and weight limits of manual handling equipment is essential to prevent injuries and racking damage.

Overloading is another major issue when it comes to pallet racking safety. To avoid this, adhere to the manufacturer-specified weight limits and display these limits clearly. You should also educate workers on how to distribute loads evenly and verify the maximum weight capacity before loading any new pallets.

Compromised beams

Beams are critical to the structural integrity of your pallet racking. Damage to these beams, often from overloading or collisions, can compromise the entire structure’s load capacity. Therefore, regular inspections for beam deflection and damage are required.

Spotted an issue? Replace any damaged beams immediately to avoid the risk of pallet racking collapse, product damage and employee injury.

Items that overhang

Overhanging items on pallets are another safety hazard. When items extend beyond the shelf’s depth, they can quickly become damaged. This is especially common in warehouses using second-hand racking that has not been tailored for their inventory.

Investing in custom-manufactured pallet racking systems suited to your specific product range can address these issues. Custom designs can account for product overhang, ensuring adequate shelf width and depth to prevent items from becoming a pallet racking safety concern.

Pallet racking safety tips for your warehouse

Use the correct forklift

Use the correct forklift

Often, the majority of pallet racking damage stems from collisions with forklifts or from the pallets they carry.

Selecting the correct forklift for your warehouse depends on several factors, such as the nature of your products, the height of your racks, and the width of your aisles.

Consult with your pallet racking provider to determine the most suitable forklift for safe operations in your storage space.

Load pallets carefully

Rapid loading and unloading of pallet racking can increase the risk of impact damage. Moreover, this risk is heightened by improperly packed pallets or those not evenly positioned on the beams.

Ensure adequate clearance when stacking pallets. Loads should be centrally stacked on the pallet and placed squarely on the rack to evenly distribute weight. Never drag or slide pallets on the support beams or structure.

For guidance on proper pallet loading and unloading, get in touch with your storage system provider.

Add pallet racking protection

Add pallet racking protection writing

Damage to your pallet racking affects its capacity to bear loads – the more damage, the less it can accommodate.

Installing pallet racking protectors can be a great way to bolster this system. After all, it’s more cost-effective to replace a corner guard or upright protector than an entire racking bay.

Keep aisles unobstructed

Obstructions like products, pallets, or debris in aisles can get in the way of forklifts, especially in tight spaces. The consequences? More difficult navigation and a greater likelihood of accidents.

Therefore, it’s important to find suitable pallet racking for all items. This helps to maintain clear aisles and minimise safety risks associated with insufficient storage.

Ensure all load signs are up-to-date

Pallet racking is designed for specific load limits, and these should be marked to inform your warehouse team of the weight capacity of each rack level and how that weight should be distributed.

Annual inspections by an industrial storage expert, as required by Safe Work Australia, are crucial for pallet racking safety and the accuracy of load signs.

Make sure your pallet racking has the necessary load signs by contacting your supplier.

Train staff on safe operation

Display clear Safe Work Load signs throughout your warehouse and provide in-depth staff training to support safe handling and loading at all times. Additionally, the pallet racking system should never be modified without manufacturer approval.

Report pallet racking damage and other risks

Develop, implement and monitor an internal protocol for employees to report any risks or damage to the pallet racking. That way, damage can be promptly identified and recorded.

Employees must inform their supervisor of any pallet racking damage immediately for inspection and evaluation.

The importance of pallet racking safety inspections

Carrying out regular pallet racking inspections is key to ensuring safety in your warehouse and complying with Australian Standards for Steel Racking.

As mandated by the AS4084-2023 Australian Standard and Rack Safety Inspection Code of Practice, warehouse racking needs to be inspected every 12 months.

A pallet racking inspector will conduct a thorough visual examination of your racking system, assessing its strength, functionality, adherence to standards, and overall condition. They also determine whether the original structure hasn’t been altered and that the specified load limits set by the manufacturer are followed.

Ignoring this essential safety measure could lead to the cancellation of vital insurance policies, including Workers’ Compensation, Professional Indemnity, and Public Liability. Additionally, disregarding Work Health and Safety regulations may result in hefty fines or even imprisonment.

Although annual inspections are the norm, it’s advisable to conduct them more frequently. Monthly or weekly evaluations can help identify and monitor any potential damage that may occur between annual checks, as structural issues often worsen over time.

Considering a pallet racking inspection? We collaborate with independent auditors from Proactive Compliance to guarantee the safety and structural integrity of your racking systems. Learn more.

Purchase strong, stable and safe pallet racking in Sydney

Warehouse racking is engineered to withstand significant pressure. That said, even the most robust pallet racks have limitations and can collapse under excessive loads. Factors such as substandard quality, incorrect setup, poor load distribution, forklift collisions and insufficient maintenance can weaken a rack’s structural strength, increasing the risk of accidents.

Therefore, warehouse managers need to establish comprehensive safety protocols tailored to the environment and the specific products it stores.

To help protect your warehouse workers, equipment and items, install the right storage from the start with Pallet Racking Sydney.

Our pallet racking systems are constructed from the toughest materials and installed with utmost workmanship for unrivalled performance. We can also design, manufacture and install custom pallet racking to suit your facility’s unique needs.

Contact Pallet Racking Sydney to discuss your exact requirements today. We’ll equip you with a premium quality pallet racking system that helps to keep your operations up and running safely.

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