Rack Codes & StandardsRack Inspection & Maintenance

Rack Inspections 101: Guidelines Ensure Safety, Productivity

Conducting periodic rack inspections to verify that a facility’s industrial steel storage rack complies with applicable standards are not only recommended by RMI, they’re also the best way to ensure the safety and performance of the system. Both American National Standards ANSI MH16-1 (Industrial Pallet Rack) and ANSI MH16.3 (Cantilever Rack) include requirements that owners maintain the integrity of their rack systems; implementing a periodic inspection program is the best way for owners to demonstrate that the integrity of their rack systems is being maintained. Further, it ensures that workers will remain productive as they are able to perform their assigned tasks without risk of injury or downtime from a rack failure.

Additionally, RMI has published the document, “Considerations for the Planning and Use of Industrial Storage Racks,” which provides guidance on the various types of rack systems available, and includes information on operation and inspection. The RMI document, “Guideline for the Assessment and Repair or Replacement of Damaged Rack,” provides guidance on how to repair rack systems.

Both standards include maintenance requirements stating that owners maintain the structural integrity of their rack systems by confirming the following:

  • Overloading does not occur at any load position or on the system as a whole.
  • Periodic damage inspections are conducted. If damage is found, the damaged portion is isolated, its load is removed, and repairs are conducted.
  • Loads are properly maintained. For pallet rack systems, ensure that pallets are not damaged and are in good operating condition. For cantilever rack systems, ensure that all loads on the arms and bases are properly placed and stable under normal operations.
  • Proper loading techniques are followed. For pallet rack systems, ensure that loads are properly loaded, stacked, or stable. For cantilever rack systems, ensure that product is placed on load arms as close to the columns as possible.
  • Do not double stack loads unless the system is designed for such loading configurations.
  • Avoid altering the system, since modifications could affect load ratings.

Further areas for inspection also include ensuring that columns are properly anchored to the floor and are straight and plumb, as required in the standards. Columns need to be within +/-0.5 inches per 10 feet of column height. For cantilever rack, vertical tolerance needs to be within 0.25-inch of the face of the column with the arm under load. Columns also need to be securely anchored to the floor.

Although the standards do not impose requirements on the frequency of rack inspections, industry best practices range from monthly to annually. Determining how often to inspect racking depends on use considerations, frequency of inventory turnover, vehicle traffic, load weight, etc. As a general rule of thumb, the higher those factors are, the more often rack inspections should occur.

Looking for more information about the inspection process? All of RMI’s publications are available for purchase, here.