WPSS Steel Shelving

Improving the Safety of Traditional Pallet Rack Systems

Safety is a top concern for every industry as worker health is just as important as productivity. When conditions are not safe, productivity does suffer as well as employee morale. Many warehouses use pallet racks to store inventory without considering the dangers these systems may pose for those around. Workplace accidents involving pallet racks are preventable with the right precautions and equipment improvements.

Traditional Pallet Racks

Pallet racks are used for large-scale storage of warehouse goods. While they are the standard for many businesses, the systems can be improved to add to safety and worker efficiency.

The Importance of Initial Durability

To prevent pallet rack accidents, the systems should be as secure as possible from the first installation. Completed systems are usually quite large, so they will often face the strain of bearing several tons of materials. Vertical structures in pallet rack systems are just as important as horizontal beams, and any compromise in the integrity of either component will pose serious safety risk or inventory damage. Pallet racks should be produced from the most high-quality and durable steel, and the proper safety precautions must be followed to insure the system is well-protected while in use.

Causes for Risk: Weakened Components

Most pallet rack systems are strong enough to handle the loads placed upon them and keep the work area safe. Threats to these systems occur in various ways, and any compromise in the system can reduce the stability of the total structure and lead to dangerous mishaps. Weakening may occur over time if the pallet system has been used for long periods to hold heavy loads. If loads placed upon the system are over the safe capacity that the pallet racks are meant to hold, the vertical and horizontal aspects of the system may fail. If other damage such as impact occurs, the racks will be less safe as well.

Causes for Risk: Climbing

When too much force is applied on a pallet rack system, the overall structure is weakened. The great force applied can sometimes cause a system to fail immediately. The safety of pallet rack systems is often affected when workers use the structures to climb to materials being stored. Some people decide to save time by climbing the racks to pick needed items instead of using a rolling ladder or forklift. Climbing can lead to dangerous falls, collapse of the pallet rack system or loss of productivity due to fallen goods.

Causes for Risk: Poor Junctions

Pallet rack systems rely not only on the strength of the rack bars themselves but also on the strength of the areas where these component connect. If the junctions between horizontal and vertical components are not reinforced, the ability of the pallet to hold its load may decline. These areas are important for contributing to the load capacity, so they must be maintained and in top condition when the system is in use.

Decreasing Risk: Rules & Inspection

The most important initial step to prevent accidents is to perform routine inspections of pallet systems. They should be checked for weight to meet load capacity as well as for structural flaws or weak areas. Warehouse managers should monitor employee activities to ensure they are in line with safe handling of materials and pallet structures. Rules should be set to ensure employees are aware of how to properly handle daily operations involving picking from racks. It should be stressed among warehouse workers that the rules are set to protect equipment as well as their own safety.

Decreasing Risk: Flow Racks

A flow rack adds shelving that is placed at an incline, and this feature provides a number of benefits compared to traditional systems. A flow rack can be added to an existing pallet rack, or the pallet rack uprights can be used to transform the system to a flow rack. Using an incline allows more products to be stored in half the space of a customary system. Because more product can be stored, less aisles are required for all goods. Flow racks help separate picking from stocking, and this improves efficiency, increases productivity by reducing the time required for employees to complete tasks.

Making the work environment more efficient leaves less opportunity for employee-related accidents to occur. Using inclined flow racks requires less use of forklifts and less chance for pallet racks to be struck by machinery. This system allows more floor space for workers to maneuver and retrieve goods with more items are stored in one place, so attempts to climb racks are less likely as well as the need to move from pallet to pallet.

Pallet rack safety should be a top concern for warehouse managers, but the issue can be resolved rather simply. Implementing safety measures and reminding employees of these rules is an essential aspect of making these systems safer, but the structures themselves can also be improved. Upgrading traditional racks with inclined flow racks help improve logistic functions that contribute to safer conditions for workers.
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