Pallet racking safety tips

Pallet racking systems are one of the most widely used form of storage units, supporting warehouses and storage facilities across the UK. Safety should always be at the forefront of your operations and there are some basic things you can do to protect your racking and the people that use it. Here are some essential pallet racking safety tips for your to consider.

Regular inspections

Warehouses and storage facilities are busy throughout the day, with order fulfilment taking precedence over everything else. That can make it hard to set aside time to maintain the equipment, such as conducting inspections on storage racking. However, the process is much more straightforward and less time consuming than you may think. Daily inspections can be managed by staff as they are working, with more in-depth inspections carried out monthly or quarterly to ensure nothing is missed.

Avoid overloading

It’s good news if your business is expanding, but it can pose challenges when it comes to storage. There is a temptation to overcrowd storage areas to accommodate more stock and better organisation, but this can have serious consequences for your pallet racking system. When pallet racks are overloaded, they can become unstable which affects their structural integrity, putting your staff and products at risk. To ensure this doesn’t happen, place individual labels on every storage rack to display the load limits so staff are always aware of the capacity.

Warehouse layout

One of the first places to start with any new pallet racking system is to take your equipment into consideration. The two will be working hand-in-hand with each other and there will safety issues to also take into account. For example, if you use forklifts, the aisles need to be wide enough to accommodate them and any other machinery used for picking and stocking. It can be tempting to make the aisles as narrow as possible to squeeze in more product, but this increases the chances of accidents that could prove costly.

Forklift operator training

Forklift driving is a specialised skill and having fully trained operators in your facility will prove invaluable. Using untrained drivers can lead to failed pallet racks and damage being caused to the facility, which is also dangerous for fellow staff members. Machinery is needed in every warehouse to support the efficient movement of stock to and from various points, and its important to have fully trained staff that can carefully navigate through what are often tight spaces. Get folk-lift trained here.

Column protectors and guardrails

It’s unavoidable that forklift operators will miscalculate turns and spaces, leading to scrapes and small accidents. Bearing this in mind, you should plan ahead and install brightly coloured guardrails, column protectors and/or bollards to optimise protection for your pallet racking system. These are cost-effective investments that will prove their value over time, absorbing the shock when a forklift or other machinery comes into contact. It will increase the longevity of your pallet racking and enhance the safety of your staff and merchandise.

General maintenance

This is a process that goes hand-in-hand with regular inspection procedures. All pallet racking systems have maintenance requirements, and if a problem is identified there should not be any delaying assessing and fixing it, where needed. It can be anything from a missing bolt to a large crack or hole appearing in a shelf. If required, the entire system will need to be put out of commission while repairs and maintenance is carried out to ensure the safety of everyone working nearby.

Bolted and teardrop racking

Some pallet racking units use bolts to keep the system in place, although the most popular type of racking uses teardrop-shaped holes to secure the pegs firmly in position. It’s a method that has been around for a long time, and over the years it has become ever more reliable thanks to improvements in manufacturing. Bolted racking is also a safe option, providing the bolts are attached securely to the appropriate directions. You should never mix and match pieces from separate racking systems unless the manufacturer states this is acceptable.

Employee training

The warehouse needs to have safeguards in place to keep employees safe, and it should be complemented by ongoing training to ensure everyone is aware of their responsibilities while at work. This refers not only to taking care of the racking and the equipment, but also to themselves. Employees should be trained in safe lifting and pushing methods to reduce the risk of injuries. All staff should understand the meaning of rack load limits, how to report damage and how to deal with chemical or dangerous storage, if applicable. This should be an annual requirement at minimum, with regular training update throughout the year.

Used pallet racking

Used pallet racking is perfectly fine to use in your warehouse – providing you do the required checks before you spend your money. Always buy from a reputable seller and go to see the racking in person, instead of just relying on imagery seen online. A good dealer will carry out due diligence to inspect and repair used racking before making it available for sale. Carry out a thorough inspection yourself and also check with the manufacturer about replacement parts, as if it is an old, decommissioned system, you may find it hard to find important components for repairs and maintenance further down the line.

Use a professional installer

Pallet racking requires a considerable investment, and you shouldn’t cut corners when it comes to the installation. Most first-hand suppliers also offer installation services, and you should seriously consider using them. Poor installation is one of the major contributing factors to defects and structural issues that appear at a later date, and having the system installed to spec and to a high standard will keep your staff and merchandise safe. While it may add to the overall expense, long-term it is a more than worthwhile investment. Not only will your pallet racking system last for longer, but you will also likely save money over time as less will be spent on repairs and maintenance caused by the initial installation.

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