Rack Safety Inspections

In the last issue we talked about the sometimes disastrous, but fortunately uncommon, instance of rack collapse, and here we continue the discussion with further comment about the importance of damage inspections. We pointed out that a properly designed rack will only collapse if it is damaged or abused.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that pallet racking in cold stores and warehouses is often subject to damage, usually by handling equipment, and this is true even with the best training and attitude on the part of operators. Modern racking is designed with built-in safety factors, and is usually able to sustain a certain amount of damage without seriously compromising its performance.


However, it must be understood that racking is invariably made from the lightest possible steel sections in order to maintain price competitiveness.


Accordingly it is vital that racking is regularly and systematically checked for damage, that this damage is formally reported and recorded, and that remedial action is effected immediately. The actual inspection can usually be tasked to a designated supervisor, but the responsibility rests with everyone from the Managing Director downwards.

The inspector needs to be specifically trained for the job so that he has a clear understanding of what constitutes damage, the level of severity of such damage, and to what extent this presents danger to the overall integrity of the system. Pallet beams and frame uprights are the components most frequently damaged by forklifts, and these are the vital load-bearing elements of the system. Dents, twists, and deflections have clearly defined and measurable limits of acceptability, and the inspector has to systematically check for these damages, and to know how to measure and grade them for severity.

Rack Inspection Tool - Supplied by Barpro Storage SA www.barprostorage.co.za
Rack Inspection Tool


The actual measuring of deflections, twisting, etc. can assisted by means of a SEMA approved measuring tool, which is available from Barpro at our Cape Town or Johannesburg offices.

Damage grading is generally divided into colour-coded categories, whereby red is serious and requiring immediate remedial action (meaning, apart from anything else, completely unloading the affected rack without delay); orange is less serious and requires action, but without the same urgency; green covers issues that do not need urgent action but have to be noted, and monitored at next inspection.

Recording the damage is by means of a check-list in chart format where each component is identified (beam, frame, connector, etc) according to exact location (rack number, bay number, level) to enable remedial action and on-going control. These records should be centrally filed for immediate senior management access, and stored as history for future reference.


How often should racking safety inspections be carried out?


The simple answer is “as often as possible”. In practice of course one has to be realistic. The ideal situation is whereby each and every person working within the facility accepts that part of his job is to be aware of the potentials for danger and to report daily to his manager or supervisor anything that might be of consequence. This will include not only visible damage, but things like missing beam safety clips, poorly stacked pallet loads, careless or bad practices, etc.

Once this ‘culture of awareness’ is firmly in place, it should be possible for the actual inspector to limit himself to a weekly walk-about visual check, and a formal inspection perhaps only monthly.


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