Rack Design & InstallationRack Inspection & Maintenance

Nine Things To Look At During A Rack System Inspection

Committing to regular, routine inspections of industrial steel storage racking is a key measure toward ensuring the safety and performance of a rack structure. To help rack owners and facility operators perform such inspections, RMI’s recent ProMat 2019 presentation, “Storage Rack Safety 101,” includes a checklist of areas to examine.

First, it’s important to review the manufacturer’s load application and rack configuration (LARC) drawings and installation guidelines, and compare that information to the existing rack structure. Potential issues might include unauthorized beam height elevation changes that do not match the original LARC, or other modifications that do not correspond to the rack manufacturer’s design and could pose a safety risk.

The different components that should be looked include (but are not limited to):

  1. Condition of stored pallets and loads. Determine if loads have been placed properly on the pallets, and that the pallets placed properly on the beams. In areas with a higher risk of seismic activity, it may be necessary to restrain or contain the product on the pallets as an additional precaution. Also, look for uniform load distribution to ensure the maximum load weight has not been exceeded.
  2. Rack anchorage. Verify that the correct number and location of anchors are in each base plate (both aisle and rear column) and evaluate the condition of the anchors themselves. Ensure that anchors are intact (not broken off or pulled out of the floor) and that the nuts on the anchor bolts are snug-tight.
  3. Column base plates. Inspect the joint where the column upright is welded to the base plate to ensure the two are attached securely.
  4. Columns. Determine if the column’s section has been distorted or bent from being impacted, particularly those facing the aisle or at the end of a row or a tunnel, where forklift collisions are more likely to occur. If in place, check the condition of free-standing or directly attached column guarding to confirm its reliability.
  5. Frame bracing. Inspect any horizontal or diagonal bracing used within the rack uprights for damage from impacts.
  6. Shelf beams and connections. Verify that beams are seated, and that beam connection locking devices are in place and secured properly. Look for excessive deflection due to overloading or point loads as opposed to uniformly distributed loads. Make sure the shelf beams are straight and have not been bent due to cross-aisle handling equipment impacts, particularly the lowest level but may also happen at upper levels.
  7. Wire decks. Confirm that any decking structures are intact, with no damage to reinforcement channels or wire mesh, as well as that each piece of decking is firmly seated in place.
  8. Pallet safety bars. Determine whether all barriers and netting—installed to prevent products from falling to the ground from their elevated storage position—are in their proper place and securely fastened to the frame and/or shelf beams.
  9. Accessories. Evaluate any other accessories that may have been added to the rack, including protective devices.

Should any damage or other unsafe condition be discovered, the racking should be immediately unloaded and repaired under the guidance of a qualified, professional rack engineer to assess the rack’s condition and oversee the ultimate repair or replacement.

Want to learn more about safe practices in industrial storage rack system installation, use and repair? RMI offers an extensive library of guidelines and standards publications available for download.