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The A-SAFE blog features advice, information and support on everything from security barriers, bollards and warehouse racking to industrial workplace health and safety.

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Types of Warehouse Racking Protection | Understanding what you need

Before looking into which warehouse racking protection to buy, it’s best to understand what options are available. There are a wide range of rack safety systems out there and this handy guide explores some of the most common types of rack protection.

You can read the full article or jump ahead to a relevant section:

  1. Rack leg protectors: Racking post protection
  2. Rack end barriers: Heavy-duty protection
  3. Kerb barriers: Vehicle fork protection
  4. Rack monitoring technology: Advanced automated protection


Rack leg protectors | Racking post protection

A very common type of rack protection, rack leg protectors shield vertical racking posts from unwanted impacts from forklift trucks and other site vehicles. The vertical uprights are an incredibly vulnerable part of warehouse racking; therefore, they require additional protection.

Rack leg protectors are often bought in large numbers to protect every vertical post in a row of racking.
There are two main types of rack leg protectors:

  • Steel rack leg protectors
  • Plastic rack leg protectors

What are steel rack leg protectors?

Steel leg protectors often take the form of a small metal shield that protects the base of a vertical racking post. These steel protectors are usually bolted to the ground and prevent site vehicles and forks from connecting with the base of the rack leg. While this can provide useful protection, is does leave the rest of the rack post open to impacts and collisions.

Alternatively, there are steel leg protectors which take the form of a metal column that can be bolted or secured to the rack post at a higher height. This can act as a shield for the post, when a vehicle connects with it. However, if the force of the impact is substantial enough, it can take out both the protector and the post itself.

What are plastic rack leg protectors?

When it comes to plastic rack leg protectors, this usually refers to polymer leg protectors. Polymer rack leg protectors are made from a robust but flexible plastic that can absorb the force of impact from a vehicle collision and recover to their original shape.

Polymer protectors can be secured to rack posts and, in some instances, have a ‘snap-on’ design which means the protection can grip to the rack leg helping to provide effective protection while being strong enough to support itself on a range of rack sizes.

Some polymer rack leg protectors are made with recycled materials, making them a more sustainable choice than traditional steel.

Rack legs need effective protection and the A-SAFE RackGuard absorbs and deflects the force of impact from vehicle collisions. Speak to a member of our team to find out more.

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Rack end barriers | Heavy duty protection

Rack end barriers are like traditional safety barriers, in that they provide effective protection from vehicle impacts. They are low level and are bolted to the ground at the end of a row of racking, as these areas can be most vulnerable to impacts from vehicles that are turning into an aisle between racking rows.

There are two main types of rack end barriers:

  • Steel
  • Polymer

What are steel rack end barriers?

Rack end barriers that are made of steel can provide some protection for rack ends, as they can shield the racking and absorb the force of an impact. However, steel barriers are not impervious to damage from vehicle collisions. Even a moderate impact can result in a steel barrier being damaged, destroyed or even ripped from its footings.

In the even of a collision, it is highly likely that a steel rack end barrier will require repair or maintenance. In most cases, a steel barrier will need replacing after an impact, as the structural integrity of the barrier may be compromised, even if the damage only seems superficial.
Furthermore, steel barriers are susceptible to rusting if they become scratched or marked by minor contact with site vehicles.

What are polymer rack end barriers?

Polymer rack end barriers can provide greater levels of protection than steel barriers, if they are properly specified. They are designed to stop vehicle collisions and disperse the force of the impact, without sustaining damage or transferring impact energy into floor substrates.

The polymer material is more flexible than steel, so can bend with the force of impact and return to its original shape without damaging the structural integrity of the barrier. This feature makes polymer barriers a more cost-effective and longer-term solution for rack end barrier protection. They can take repeated impacts without weakening, whereas steel is more likely to deform after impact or be wrenched from its concrete footings.

If an impact is substantial enough, in either speed or weight, it can breach a safety barrier. Therefore, regardless of whether you choose steel or polymer, it is important to enforce strict rules around vehicle speeds and load weights within your facility.

At A-SAFE, our eFlex and iFlex RackEnd barriers provide flexible, robust protection for vulnerable rack ends. The low-maintenance polymer design makes it ideal for long lasting support. Find out more about our range of rack end barriers.

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Kerb barriers | Vehicle fork protection

Kerb barriers are designed to stop the forks of a materials handling vehicle from catching rack shelving or puncturing valuable stock. They are designed to provide ground-level protection from shallow angular impacts. They are often used in combination with traffic- or pedestrian barriers to prevent forks from passing beneath the rails.

These barriers are a solid steel or polymer kerb that is bolted to the floor, rather than a traditional barrier style made up of rails and end posts. The solid design means there are no gaps to allow vehicle forks to penetrate.

What are steel kerb barriers?

Steel kerb barriers are a solid block of steel which is bolted to the floor to ensure vehicle forks do not connect with stock or racking. While they can offer reasonable impact protection, they are susceptible to many of the same issues as steel safety barriers:

  • They can deform upon impact and need replacing
  • They can rust
  • They need continual repainting to ensure they’re visible to drivers

What are polymer kerb barriers?

As with most polymer protection products, polymer kerb barriers are designed to withstand multiple impacts without becoming damaged or destroyed. The dense polymer material can flex with the impact and reform to its original shape, making it ideal for long-term protection.

Often used in conjunction with rack end barriers, polymer kerb barriers fill the gap underneath the barrier rail, preventing ground-level collisions.

Vehicle forks present a constant threat to stock at busy industrial sites. Make sure your goods are well protected with the A-SAFE ForkGuard range. Why not speak to our team to find out how they can help you.

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Rack monitoring technology | Advanced automated protection

A relatively new development in rack protection is the electronic rack monitoring system. The technology works by collecting rack impact data in real time, allowing you to identify impact trends and hotspots within your facility. This allows you to take proactive measures to reduce the risk of impacts happening in future.

What is rack monitoring technology?

This refers to a series of sensors that are secured evenly along rack shelving. These sensors detect when a rack has been impacted and send the electronic results back to the computer of the Warehouse Manager or another senior member of management. This allows the person in charge to see where a rack has been damaged and make quick and safe repairs or replace that area of racking.

What are the benefits?

Electronic rack damage systems allow the manager to monitor the damage caused to their racking over a prolonged period. This means the system can provide detailed data on which areas of the warehouse racking are most susceptible to impacts. With this data, it is easier to upgrade the level of protection in those specific areas or increase awareness for drivers through better signage and visual indicators on site.

How can this create a safer workplace?

The aim of rack monitoring technology is not only to inform warehouse management when damage occurs, but also to help encourage a culture of safety among the workforce so that rack collisions become less common.

As well as being the creator of the world’s first polymer safety barrier, A-SAFE pioneered RackEye impact monitoring technology. Our sales team can perform a free site survey to see if RackEye is right for your facility.

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Types of warehouse racking protection | A summary

There are a range of protection systems for warehouse racking,  but it is important to understand what they do, how they work and the benefits they offer. By taking the time to research, you can ensure the protection you have on site is robust enough to handle potential impacts without generating unwanted costs further down the line.

We really understand the issues that warehouse managers and members of the distribution and logistics industry face on a daily basis. Our trained team can evaluate facilities and highlight potential hazards, as well as being able to suggest appropriate solutions. Call our sales team on (443) 776-3472 or email us at [email protected] and find out what we can do for you. 


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