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Preventing a Pallet Racking Collapse in Your Warehouse


pallet rack collapse with operating forklift drivers

Often people think that a pallet racking collapse happens to other companies. But, you will be surprised how often those collapses happen and what the causes are. For example, if you have forklifts operating, you have a high chance of a pallet racking collapse happening.

You may have seen videos of major collapses just like this one. An entire warehouse of racking was wiped out in minutes, and stock damage potentially into the millions.

Or it can be a minor collapse where just a few shelves give way where a person is working.

Pallet racking collapses can result in serious injury and, unfortunately, in some cases, the death of workers. In addition, the loss of stock can bring your business to a halt for weeks.

Pallet racking collapses are preventable most of the time, and they usually only happen due to the following reasons:

1. Overloading racking

Overloading racking is a common mistake made. Companies add too much stock, taking the weight beyond the racking limits. This excessive weight can cause structural problems within the framework and be the catalyst for an entire system collapse. 

It is important to abide by the manufacturer’s weight limits marked on the racking installation. In addition, as part of your warehouse workers and forklift operatives training, you should constantly reinforce these limits and ensure your displaying load notice signs are easily visible around your warehouse.

Another important requirement is to have a stacking map of what SKUs can be placed on racking and the maximum number of items.

2. Fit for Purpose Racking

Often companies purchase second-hand racking to fill in gaps or consider they require only a small amount of racking installed. It may be a simple solution, but if the pallet racking is not the right strength or style for the purpose you require, it can result in a pallet racking collapse.

We highly recommend getting expert advice on specifying pallet racking that is right for your stock. You also need to consider fit for purpose. For example, the correctly rated cantilever racking is the best solution if you are storing long or awkwardly-sized items.

3. Poor installation standards

Nothing can be more dangerous than your racking system not being installed properly in the first place. This can cause major problems for employees’ safety.

Avoid doing DIY when erecting pallet racking and attempting to integrate products from different manufacturers into the same system. This could potentially cause problems long-term as joints become sacrificed through cracking. Instead, always use an accredited company like Bowen Storage to be confident the job is being done properly and abides by the manufacturer’s specifications.

4. Inefficient warehouse design and layout

A warehouse’s inefficient design or layout is often a major safety concern and can be the catalyst for pallet racking collapse. The design needs to consider that the aisles between your pallet racking system have sufficient width for operating machinery, such as forklifts, to work. This includes turning safely, fully laden, and operating under racks in drive-through racking systems. If employees work in the same area, sufficient space should be allowed for forklifts to pass safely without driving too close to the racks. The scrapping of pallet racking by equipment is one of the major causes of a pallet rack collapse.

As your business grows, you may add new sections to your system, and the efficiencies of working in the facility become less productive. In addition, your warehouse can become more hazardous as your operations expand.

To avoid design and layout problems, always have the design reviewed by professionals, like Bowen Storage, before making any changes to your facility.

5. Negligence of Assets

The beam damage incidents are high due to the pallet racking systems’ increased wear and tear. What may look like minor damage to an upright strut can become a weakness in the system causing other areas of the racking to become compromised. Therefore, all racking must be examined every twelve months by external professionals to ensure the integrity and safety of the assets. This can avoid a pallet racking collapse in a section or an entire line of racking.

Any damage that occurs should be immediately reported and repaired to ensure the safety of all those working around the racking systems.

6. Negligence by personnel

Even with the best safety procedures and measures in place, a pallet racking collapse may happen due to staff negligence. 

Regular racking safety awareness training will assist in improving your warehouse staff awareness. The loading ratios of shelving throughout the warehouse, safety measures they should be taking and the danger associated with non-compliance.

The training should also include awareness of managers or team leaders to stop staff from climbing on racking when picking products. Again, this is a preventative measure, and team leaders must monitor their personnel daily.

How to prevent a pallet racking collapse

For existing racking installations, we recommend that any damage to your warehouse racking, whether noticed by you or staff, should be reported immediately. The rack should be emptied and not used until it is fully repaired.

Always operate and maintain your pallet racking system with guidelines from the manufacturer, and avoid second-hand or DIY installation or changes being made to the racking.

For new installations or expansion of existing facilities, engage a professional warehouse design and layout expert to ensure the safety of your warehouse and maximisation of your efficiency and productivity of personnel.

Bowen Storage specialists can assist you in avoiding a pallet racking collapse.

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