7 Ways to keep pallet racks safe and to reduce warehouse collisions

Pallet racks do occasionally collapse, but the causes are preventable.  One of the main problems comes when racks are struck and damaged by forklifts or other warehouse activity.

Busy warehouses with many workers who drive or walk between aisles of rack are always at risk. When racks are struck by a forklift, there is always a good chance of collapse, either at that moment or later due to structural damage or jostled loads.

What are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of a collapse? In this blog we discuss ways to reduce the chances of a disastrous event.

1. Wider aisle spaces

The minimum aisle space provided by your forklift manufacturer, is just that – a minimum. While you may want to make the best utilisation of your warehouse space, you should always build contingencies into your design. Safety has to take precedence over every other concern, and the minimum aisle space can often be too narrow, even for experienced drives.

Aisle width should take pallet overhang, driver skills, traffic patterns and throughput into account before the warehouse racking is put into place. Wider aisles can also increase productivity by allowing drivers to work faster in the aisles.

2. Better layout of adequate transfer aisles

It’s not just your picking aisles that need to be clear and wide enough. Transfer aisles can also present an issue if they are not adequately laid out. Make sure that transfer aisles are wide enough to support passing forklifts and pedestrians.

Rack tunnels, too, should be wide enough for a forklift to drive and maneuver, with space for pedestrians as well. And make sure the lowest remaining beam is marked with hazard striping. Installing safety netting to catch falling items from the upper bays is also vital.  Tunnels are often dangerous and a prime location for collisions, so additional lighting, or collision sensors can help reduce risks.

3. Rack protection

Rack protection is inexpensive and an easy way to protect your pallet racks. The end frames and corner columns or your racking are the most vulnerable areas, so it is important to protect them as well as possible

All of the various types (bolted steel, floor-anchored, button-on, poly snap-on) can work. It’s a matter of what is best for your operation. You should always configure the protection to be effective at the point of most frequent  damage.

4. Remove litter, clutter and non essential items

Litter, clutter, pallets and other obstacles are a serious hazard both for pedestrians and forklift drivers. Any clutter in aisles will increase the chance of a collision with racking. Keeping the aisles clear of obstacles is critical to warehouse safety.

5. Regular rack inspections

The best way to keep racks in good order, and to make sure they haven’t been damaged or require replacement is to inspect them on a regular basis. Any damages, bends, dents, etc need to be investigated to make sure structural integrity hasn’t been compromised. If it has, it’s important to make repairs as quickly as possible.

6. Enforce the speed limit

In a busy warehouse it’s easy for people to rush. But a forklifts should never travel any faster than 8 miles per hour. Near pedestrians it should be even slower, at no more than 3 miles per hour. Any areas where there are corners, rack tunnels or pallet rack areas should have “slow-go” limits for forklifts. Safety always needs to come first. So it is important that forklift drivers don’t feel they have to rush.

For more information or to make sure your pallet racks are in perfect working order for your warehousing needs, contact us.

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