Is it safe to walk on wire mesh rack decking? In a single word, the answer is “no.”
Welded wire rack decking is not engineered for pedestrian use. Because decking often supports loads weighing thousands of pounds, warehouse associates at times erroneously believe that it must be strong enough to safely support them—since they weigh much less than a pallet load. Yet, just because a piece of decking is rated for a capacity of 1,000 pounds or more, the rating is specifically calculated assuming a uniformly distributed load—a static load which is evenly distributed over the entire surface of the rack deck.
A person stepping on a deck creates a point load that puts a concentrated weight on a specific area of the decking. Since it is not designed for point loading, when stepped on the deck can buckle, bow or sag and fall through the rack beams. This can be very dangerous for an operator, potentially resulting in injury or death.
Additionally, the spacing between the wire mesh is often wider than that of a human foot, creating a trip hazard if stepped on. It is also a recommended best practice to secure decking to the rack structure with fasteners.
In summary, welded wire rack decking works very well with pallets and other types of static loads, but is not designed as—and should never be used as—a walking surface.
Looking for more details about how to properly use wire mesh rack decking? Download a copy of RMI’s publication ANSI MH26.2-2017: Design, Fabrication, Testing and Utilization of Welded Wire Rack Decking.