Using Your Pallet Racks To Create A Culture Of Safety In Your Warehouse

Pallet racks are often seen as the result of a mathematical equation. If your warehouse needs to store a certain amount of materials or finished product, you'll need to have a certain amount of pallet racks upon which to store them. However, given the fact that employees commonly incur injuries when handling and storing materials, it pays to give your racks a little more thought than that. 

The proper selection, installation, and use of your pallet racks combine to help create a safe, efficient workplace. To ensure that your storage setup is creating this environment for you, the first thing to look at is the type of pallet rack you're using.

Selecting The Right Rack Setup

When you go out to purchase a rack system for an area of your warehouse, the first thing you'll probably consider is the rack's capacity. This makes sense--you're likely purchasing storage space to address a specific logistics issue with your storage and distribution system. The thing to keep in mind when you do this is that you should try to find a rack setup that will exceed your target capacity by at least 10%. Errors in calculations or employee protocol can cause your racks to be overloaded at times.

The other point to factor in when selecting new racks is their compatibility with your existing rack system. Unless you're building out a new warehouse or a new wing to an existing building, you've likely got storage systems in place already. Try to keep the new racks as close to the dimensions and divisions of your existing racks as possible. This helps to standardize employee operations, thus reducing the risk of injury.

Installation Tips

Installing your pallet racks is critical to the long-term safety of your warehouse. A proper installation yields stability, reliability, and ease of use. On the other hand, a botched installation process makes the possibility of a warehouse accident much more likely.

The three main things that you'll need to focus on during installation include:

  • Guardrails--Since many pallet rack accidents are caused by lift truck accidents, you'll want to make sure that some sort of guardrail system is in place to protect your uprights. These rails preserve the structural integrity of your racks, and also add life to your investment.
  • Floor Bolts--All of the uprights must be bolted securely to the warehouse floor. While this might seem obvious, it is good practice to examine the bolts upon completion of the install. Also, using this time to check the bolts in any existing rack setup is a great idea.
  • Boltless Shelves--Beams and shelves often use boltless setups where they fit snugly into notches on the rack's frame. These need to fit exactly into the designated location to avoid slippage and failure.

You'll need to develop a policy by which these items are checked regularly over time. That said, starting from a secure, proper foundation with your new rack system is a critical component of long-term safety.

Using Your New Racks Properly

As with all procedures and protocols in a warehouse, intentional training is important. If you train your employees to use the racks properly, your environment will be safer. If you don't, they will likely use the racks in such a way that deterioration and critical accidents are almost a certainty.

The most important factor in rack use is the weight load. Make sure that your employees place the pallets securely in the center of the racks. Also, post the rack capacity in a visible location on each rack--both in raw weight and in estimated number of pallets. That way, your supervisors can run periodic checks and evaluate the effectiveness of your training methods.

Pallet racks are more than just an operational necessity--they are a vital component to a safe warehouse. By selecting, installing, and using your new racks properly, you'll eliminate many of the issues that plague unsafe warehouse environments. Click here for more info on warehouse pallet racks.