How to Inspect and Maintain Storage Racks in the Warehouse
Loading and unloading warehouse racking has inherent safety risks, but rack can become more dangerous when it is not properly inspected, used, and maintained. Learn more about storage rack inspection and maintenance below.
Why is storage rack inspection and maintenance important?
Although designed to withstand heavy loads, racking is susceptible to wear and tear especially when forklift equipment may collide with its components.
It is not uncommon for forklifts to accidentally hit and cause damage to rack. Overloading or improperly loading racking can also accelerate wear and tear, increasing the chances of rack damage.
Proper inspection and maintenance help ensure that the storage rack is in good shape and used correctly. It can also help avoid problems before they happen. For example, persistent improper storage can increase the chances of products falling or damaging the rack. This can lead to a collapse, or the rack needs to be replaced. However, damage can be reduced significantly by catching improper storage procedures early on.
Rack inspection and maintenance are crucial to secure merchandise, verify the integrity of the racking, and ultimately to keep workers safeThis is also required under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines in the U.S. The guidelines ensure that warehouses provide appropriate working conditions, and rack safety is essential to consider when doing so.
How to inspect and maintain storage racks
There are many things to consider when improving rack safety. Below are tips for inspecting and maintaining storage racks effectively.
Choose the best fit for the operation
Storage rack is widely used in warehouses across the world. Therefore, many companies manufacture them, and it can be challenging to choose the right one.
One of the first things to consider is that the storage rack complies with health and safety regulations. Regulations may vary depending on the country, state, warehouse size, etc., so it is crucial to determine this before purchase. It is also essential to ensure the rack will work optimally in the designated area and alongside other departments and that the installation process is accurate and efficient. Things like floor dimensions, size, specifications, colors, etc., should also be considered.
Documentation can prove that the installed racking complies with regulations, but employers may choose to have a Pre-Start Health and Safety Review (PSR) conducted. This involves safety inspectors and engineers coming into the facility to assess the overall safety standards of equipment and procedures. PSRs can provide an extra layer of protection for workers and equipment.
If the choice is narrowed down between a few options, checking reviews, asking for recommendations, comparing features and cost breakdown, etc., can aid in the final decision.
Inspect and maintain racking regularly
Safety standards must always be followed, but if there is a large gap between inspections, it is easier to miss potential flaws or damages to racking. And this may increase the risk of workplace injuries or fatalities. A way to combat this is to have inspections regularly.
It is wise to have workers do quick inspections and maintenance checks frequently, and any issues to be noted and fixed as soon as possible. Scheduling annual inspections with a professional is also vital. This allows for a more thorough inspection and ensures racking is safe and up-to-date. Professionals can also provide recommendations on how to improve safety further. Professional reviews should occur at least once a year or once every six months.
Inspect with care
Storage rack consists of several components, so there is a lot to consider in an inspection. Focusing on certain aspects that pose higher safety risks can be an excellent start. Examples include:
- Type of rack
- How long the rack has been used
- What the rack is used for
- How old other warehouse equipment is (e.g., forklifts)
- If the rack is in good shape
- How often maintenance is carried out
It is also essential to inspect the entire racking area and surrounding workspaces. Doing this ensures that safety is a priority across all departments. It also provides an opportunity to identify current or potential inefficiencies and business interruptions.
Ensure proper usage
One of the most common incidents with racking is overloading or improper loading. This can result in rack collapses, it can damage goods, and cause worker-related injuries. This can be combated by ensuring all employees have proper training and certifications. The employer must provide thorough training and access to necessary materials and information (e.g., manuals, tools, data sheets, etc.). Workers should also be encouraged to speak up if they are unsure about certain aspects of their job and if they need help performing tasks.
Install additional layers of protection
Forklifts and other warehouse machinery are commonly used for loading and unloading storage racks. Maneuvering large machinery, mainly if there is decreased visibility due to carrying loads in the front, is likely to result in minor or significant impacts. Racking is designed to withstand impacts, but repeated collisions may lead to structural issues over time. An excellent way to reduce damage is by installing rack protection and equipment. Examples include:
- Upright/post guards or protectors
- Support beams
- Column guards
Learn more about rack protection products in the following article: What Rack Protection Products Can I Use to Protect My Pallet Rack in My Warehouse?
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