How to Meet OSHA Regulations for Improved Pallet Rack Safety

February 21, 2019

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the fatal injury rate for the warehousing industry is higher than the national average of all other industries. Warehouse operations can present multiple dangers for workers— one of the most common being improperly stored products. This is why warehouses must adhere to OSHA regulations that outline the proper measures to improve pallet rack safety.

Racking systems are a staple for most industrial warehouses. Without them, warehouses would be extremely disorganized and unsafe. Properly-maintained and optimized pallet racks offer sufficient storage space for a warehouse’s inventory and improve worker efficiency by making products easy to locate. However, a damaged or improperly installed pallet rack can lead to serious injuries for workers. For example, injuries can occur from falling debris or workers getting caught under a collapsed racking system.

To ensure the safety of your workers, here are a few pallet rack safety guidelines you should be following in accordance with OSHA regulations.

#1 Choose the Right Racking System for Your Warehouse

Every industrial shelving option offers unique storage capacity levels designed to fit your warehouse’s storage needs. That is why choosing the right pallet rack is important before proceeding with the installation. The types of racking systems used for most storage solutions include:

  • Selective racking;
  • Pallet flow;
  • Push-back;
  • Drive-in; and
  • Carton flow.

Your pallet rack choice should be able to fit the floor area where it will be installed. Trying to force a larger racking system into a tight space will only make the installation process more difficult and prevent you from utilizing its maximum storage capacity.

You should always hire a professional warehouse technician to install your industrial shelving. That way, you can be sure all pallet rack safety protocols are properly followed to align with OSHA regulations.

#2 Perform Regular Pallet Rack Maintenance

One of the worst ways pallet rack safety is diminished is by ignoring maintenance issues. Regular maintenance checks are important to prevent pallet rack failure and avoid costly pallet rack repairs. Three of the most common citations given to warehouse employers for failing to follow proper OSHA regulations are from:

  • Not having rack columns anchored to the floor;
  • Not having load ratings present on racking; and
  • Using damaged pallet racks.

Using a damaged racking system can increase the likelihood of having the entire structure collapse. Preventative maintenance is crucial for pallet rack safety to prevent damage to your warehouse equipment and inventory, as well as to minimize the risk of employee injury. Southern States Enterprises offers a planned maintenance program that is customized for your facility and racking system. Once inspections are completed, we provide you with a written report of our findings and recommendations for corrective rack repair actions.

#3 Install the Necessary Tools to Increase Pallet Rack Safety

A critical aspect of regulatory compliance with warehouse storage safety standards is installing the proper pallet rack safety tools. They help your warehouse meet OSHA regulations and help prevent lost-time from worker injuries that would increase your costs and reduce productivity. Some of the safety tools Southern States Enterprises offers include:

  • Guardrails;
  • Bollards;
  • Rack netting;
  • Wire mesh rack backing;
  • Wire mesh decking;
  • Pallet support bars;
  • Punch decking;
  • Column protectors; and
  • Rack end guards.

Having the right pallet rack safety measures in place are an important part of ensuring the safety of your workers and warehouse assets. A customized maintenance program for your style of pallet rack combined with using safety tools all help maintain pallet rack safety and avoid citations for failing to observe the proper OSHA regulations.

If your warehouse needs a pallet rack safety reboot, Southern States Enterprises has all the necessary safety tools and industrial shelving to help! Our trained technicians will inspect your current setup to ensure it meets OSHA regulations and will perform any rack repair services needed to replace old, damaged parts with new and stronger material. Be sure to download our pallet rack inspection guide to know the warning signs you should look for when doing your own in-house inspection, and feel free to contact us for any more pallet rack safety questions and information! 

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