In busy warehouse and distribution facilities, racking systems need effective protection. But where do you start? To help, we’ve created this handy guide.
You can read the full article or jump ahead to a relevant section:
- Understanding warehouse racking protection: The basics
- Warehouse racking hazards: What is at risk?
- Warehouse safety standards: What are the regulations?
1. Understanding warehouse racking protection | The basics
If you’re unfamiliar with warehouse racking and the protection it needs, then this section covers some of the most common questions.
What is warehouse racking?
Warehouse racking refers to the large industrial shelving structures that are used in warehouses, storage facilities and distribution centers to store large volumes of stock and goods.
Which industries use warehouse racking?
There are a range of industries, sectors and businesses that use warehouse racking in their daily routines, including:
What types of facilities have warehouse racking?
Although the name refers to ‘warehouses’, racking is common across a variety of facilities, including:
- Distribution centers
- Storage Facilities
- Cold storage facilities
Each facility will present its own problems and hazards, so it is important to undertake a thorough risk assessment to understand what challenges you face when protecting your site.
What is warehouse racking protection?
Warehouse racking protection refers to the various safety systems that are used to protect vulnerable shelving and rack structures in busy warehouses. These items are used to provide additional shielding for areas of the racking that are most susceptible to potential collisions from various industrial vehicles.
Industrial vehicles might include:
- Forklift trucks
- Side loaders
- Pallet trucks
- Various material-handling vehicles and equipment
Types of racking protection
When we talk about warehouse racking protection, we’re not referring to one type of product. There are a range of safety systems available to help protect rack shelving from the various hazards and risks present at busy facilities.
At A-SAFE, we have a range of racking protection solutions to help you increase safety at your facility. Speak to a member of our team to find out how we can help you.
2. Warehouse racking hazards | What is at risk?
As we’ve already discussed, warehouse racking protection is designed to protect the vulnerable areas of industrial shelving. But what are the various risks and hazards that could be present at busy warehousing facilities?
Why does warehouse racking need protection?
It is vital to ensure warehouse racking is safely defended for several reasons, including protecting:
- People on site
- From unexpected costs and expenditures
If warehouse racking is impacted by a site vehicle, then it immediately creates potential issues. The warehouse racking itself could become damaged or weakened, in extreme situations this could cause the racking to fail. If this happens then it is very likely that large volumes of stock, and the racking itself, could come crashing down. Not only will this render the valuable stock unusable, at great cost to the business and customers, but it could potentially harm nearby workers and cause even damage to infrastructure or machinery.
This could result in monetary loss for the business, including:
- Replacing destroyed stock
- Replacing/repairing racking and infrastructure
- Production downtime while substantial repairs are made
- Legal costs of accidents and injuries occurring on site
However, racking collapses are very rare occurrences, what is more likely in the event of a collision is that racking will have to be quarantined. This is where all stock and goods are removed from the racking until such time as it can be repaired or replaced.
This can have a huge impact of daily operations, as it can affect the amount of stock a warehouse can store at any one time and potentially make it impossible to fulfill orders on time.
What are the hazards at a warehouse facility?
The risks to warehouse racking include:
- Vehicles striking racking while loading/unloading stock
- Forklift forks puncturing stock or denting racking
- Vehicles catching rack ends while turning into a racking aisle
- Minor scrapes and bumps which weaken racking over time
- Racking collapses
However, more general hazards faced at warehouses include:
- Vehicle impacts with personnel
- Goods falling from racking onto vehicles and workers
- Topple accidents involved goods that have been stacked
- Falling accidents involving people working at height or at loading docks
- Damage to the building and infrastructure
To combat these risks, it’s important to invest in the right kind of safety systems. In the next section, we will discuss the various types of warehouse racking protection.
How do I know which racking protection I need for my warehouse?
When purchasing racking protection, it’s vital to understand the hazards that are present at your facility. By understanding what risks are posed, you can better identify the types of protection you need.
All product types can be used in conjunction with each other to provide a more rounded level of protection for your racking. It may be that only one or two types are relevant for your facility, however, it is more likely that by investing in all the protection available, you will substantially reduce the severity of the damage caused during a collision.
Warehouse rack damage can cause serious problems for any industry, especially distribution and logistics companies. Stay ahead of any hazards by investing in the correct safety systems. At A-SAFE, our polymer safety barriers and rack protectors are designed to provide the ultimate protection time after time. Speak to one of our team to find out more.
3. Warehouse racking safety standards | What are the regulations?
Safety standards and regulations provide crucial guidelines for improving safety at industrial facilities. While not all of them are required by law, it’s useful to understand what guidelines exist in order to ensure your site safety measures are as effective as possible.
Are there safety standards for warehouse racking protection?
In the UK, there are no set safety standards for the manufacture and installation of warehouse racking protection, however there are a range of guidelines and regulations that have been provided by the Health and Safety Executive to ensure it does not put workers at risk. The HSE is the branch of British government that is responsible for regulating health and safety, and their website is an incredibly useful resource when looking to improve site safety in the UK and across the world.
The HSE have provided a thorough Guide to Warehousing and Storage which includes sections on material handling and storage areas. Even in the UK, these regulations can not be legally enforced, instead, they are an example of the best practices when it comes to maintaining the proper health and safety measures around your warehouse racking. With that in mind, they are a good guideline for racking in any country. Be sure to check your nation's occupational safety agency for rules and/or guidelines on racking and storage.
What are the British guidelines on warehousing and storage?
The British guidelines specifically apply to health and safety around warehouse racking than specific approaches to protection. However, the HSE does provide a detailed guide to the best way to ensure you warehouse is properly installed and inspected at regular intervals.
The guidelines cover a range of subjects, including:
- Planning the layout of your warehouse and its racking at the same time
- Ensuring your racking is installed properly
- Prohibiting the misuse of racking – i.e. no overloading, no climbing, etc.
- Providing proper physical protection
- Ensuring racking is always highly visible to site drivers
- Undertake regular rack inspections internally and with accredited external inspectors
- Provide the necessary racking inspection training for designated personnel
Standards BS EN 15635: 2008
The British Standards Institution has created a set of safety standards for warehouse racking – or steel static storage systems – referred to as BS EN 15635: 2008. This European Standard provides guidelines around maintaining the structural safety of storage equipment while heavy materials handling vehicles are in operation.
It was designed to help minimize the risk posed by warehouse racking that has been impacted – it is followed closely by the manufacturers of steel storage systems.
What is SEMA?
When researching warehouse racking you will come across SEMA, which stands for the Storage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association. All UK racking manufacturers belong to SEMA and it plays an important role in the development of standards for the storage industry. It has a code of practice that its members should fulfil, especially in relation to rack inspections.
Does warehouse racking have to be performed by a SEMA member?
A SEMA member does not have to inspect warehouse racking as their standards are not legally enforced. However, they have become an unofficial benchmark that is adhered to by most storage equipment manufacturers.
Are there any other regulations relevant to warehouse racking?
In the UK, other regulations to be aware of are the ones set out in the Provision and Use of Work Equipment and Regulations 1998 – often referred to as PUWER.
These regulations cover the range of responsibilities held by those who operate work equipment on site, as well as the business owners and companies that provide it.
What does the Provision and Use of Work Equipment and Regulations 1998 cover?
PUWER covers a wide range of work equipment, but it also discusses the use of racking systems and important guidelines around its proper installation, use and maintenance.
The UK regulations ensure that equipment is
- Safe for employees to use
- Maintained and inspected regularly to prevent a decline in effectiveness
- Suitable for its intended use
- Handled by those with the appropriate training and expertise
- Installed and used in line with necessary health and safety measures, protections and controls
The HSE has created a handy guide to PUWER on their website.
At A-SAFE, we understand the importance of following safety standards and regulations to ensure your workforce is properly protected. That’s why we worked with the British Standards Institution and industry leaders to create PAS 13 – the code of practice for the correct application and testing of safety barriers. If you’d like to learn more about how A-SAFE and PAS 13 can help you plan and implement effective protection on site, contact a member of our team.
Warehouse racking protection | A summary
When protecting warehouse racking, it’s important to understand not only the risks you face at your facility, but also the regulations surrounding racking and the different types of protection available. With a little research and a thorough review of your site, you can arm yourself with the information you need to make an informed choice
We have a full suite of racking protection products for all your needs. Whether you work in distribution, logistics or storage, we can help reduce risk in your warehouse. Call our sales team on (443) 776-3472, email us at [email protected] or use the contact form below and find out what we can do for you.