All rack is susceptible to damage. Forklifts weigh between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds and can travel up to eight miles per hour. I have seen bent concrete-embedded bollards and building columns, never mind how easy it is for a lift trucks to twist or wipe out a rack upright.
Clearly, the best prevention is in the initial rack design. Wide enough aisles, paying up for structural, boxed front columns, bull-noses, column guards and rub rails all help and for the toughest environments, like freezers and grocery, these can be mission critical.
But what about a more typical environment, those who work in a more slow to medium-paced climate? It often makes sense to reduce the capital investment upfront by using roll form products, as long as you have a plan in place to manage the risk of using this less-durable rack.
Here are some key points to consider:
- Use a reputable dealer to design a rack system around your specific needs.
- Keep your aisles wide enough. The forklift manufacturers’ minimum aisle width is just that, a minimum. Add at least 12” for greater productivity and safety. Get the correct uprights’ depth and beam lengths for your product, along with the right capacity. A detailed and accurate inventory of what you want to store is critical (width, depth, height, and weight), along with type of pallet.
- Add strength-enhancing options and column guards, especially at intersections. Even roll form rack can be beefed up with the bull nose and post strengtheners.
- Add protection where bumps are likely to occur, like the ends of rows.
Then, put in place common sense measures:
- Make it a policy to report and inspect all forklift/rack accidents.
- Have a local rack expert or competent staff member perform an annual inspection noting all damage utilizing rules of thumb.
- More than a 1/8” deflection front and ¼” deflection lateral, or more than a 3/8” deflection on a cross brace are reasons to take an upright out of service.
- Broken base plates, twisted or sheared uprights, loose anchor bolts, all need immediate repair.
- Row ties must be in place if the design calls for it.
- Review pallet weights and rack capacities, and post visible capacity plaques.
- Repair or replace all unsafe uprights and beams.
We’ve all seen YouTube videos of entire warehouse rack systems collapsing. Forklift operators are protected by overhead guards but not so for pedestrians.
For a no-charge rack safety inspection, including prevention and repair options, drop me a line!