Engineered to store pallet loads on both sides of an aisle, industrial pushback racking storage systems deliver cubic densities that are approximately 25% to 65% greater than selective racking. The systems are built with a series of nested carts that roll along inclined steel rails, typically two to six pallets deep per storage lane. Pallets are set on each cart, one after the other, with the new pallet pushing back the load placed before it. Each lane is loaded from front to back, creating last-in/first-out (LIFO) access.

In addition to publishing the American National Standards ANSI MH16.1 for Industrial Pallet Rack — which details rack design, engineering, construction, and ownership requirements — the members of RMI have assembled a list of pushback rack owner “Dos and Don’ts.” Following these recommendations will enhance both the integrity and reliability of the system, while reducing the risk of injury for workers as they perform their tasks in and around the racking.

Pushback Rack Dos…

  • Do use pushback rack to store multiple pallets of the same product, particularly fast movers.
  • Do install load plaques and post system design parameters in multiple, conspicuous locations.
  • Do make sure the original Load Application and Rack Configuration (LARC) drawings are kept current; update the LARC drawings if modifications are made to the system.
  • Do train all personnel to immediately report any visible rack damage, out-of-plumb condition, or jammed pallets they observe in the system.
  • Do advise employees working at the pick face of a lane of pushback rack that a significant amount of force rests on the front pallet because the loads rest on a series of nested carts that use gravity to travel down an incline.
  • Do only use the pallet style or type that the pushback rack system was designed to accommodate.
  • Do place only undamaged pallets into the system.
  • Do inspect all pallets used in the racking to verify that the pallet is not damaged and that all items stored on top of it have been securely unitized.
  • Do train forklift drivers to safely load pallets from the front of the lane opening following these best practice guidelines:
    1. Position the vehicle squarely to the opening of the lane for safe, proper placement of the load into the system.
    2. Lift the load approximately 3-4 inches above the top cart, centering the pallet over the cart (or over an optional centered stop device positioned on the lane’s front beam).
    3. Tilt the forks up slightly to match the pitch of the rail if the cart system is sloped.
    4. When the forklift is properly aligned, insert the pallet into the system until it is properly oriented, then lower it slowly onto the cart to avoid an abrupt impact.
    5. After lowering, confirm that the pallet is properly aligned as directed by the rack manufacturer.
    6. Slowly remove the forks at the same angle of alignment to prevent damage to the pallet or racking.
  • Do raise the next load to a height approximately 4 inches above the cart when loading subsequent pallets to ensure pallet-to-pallet contact between the loads. This prevents damage and hang-ups.
  • Do verify that the final pallet placed in the lane is resting on the pushback system’s rails and behind any optional beam pallet stop device (if used).
  • Do periodically inspect the system’s carts and rails to ensure all components are intact and that any debris or other foreign material is removed.

Pushback Rack Don’ts…

  • Don’t load pallets of a different type, size, or configuration than what the system was designed for into the pushback racking. Doing so can negatively impact system performance and increase the risk of a pallet not being securely seated in the lane.
  • Don’t place damaged pallets with broken, split or cracked bottom boards, or exposed fasteners into the system.
  • Don’t place pallets whose loads have not been shrink wrapped or otherwise securely unitized into the system, as they could fall off during loading or unloading and cause a jam.
  • Don’t force pallet loads into the racking if any resistance is encountered during the loading process.
  • Don’t remove the front pallet in an uncontrolled manner or at excessive speeds when unloading it from the rack. The speed of the forklift as it backs out with the load is what controls the speed of the descent of the remaining pallets and carts in the lane.
  • Don’t exit the racking with a removed load too quickly, as it may cause the subsequent loads to advance too fast and collide with the front of the system, damaging the racking or jarring the load and causing items to become loose and fall.
  • Don’t mix load weights within a single lane, as it increases the potential for a heavier pallet to push a lighter one out of alignment or out of the system.
  • Don’t side-shift a pallet resting on a pushback cart; doing so will likely knock the cart out of alignment and off the rail.
  • Don’t permit an operator to climb into a live pushback lane to attempt to clear a stuck pallet as the risk of serious injury is high. Instead, all pallets from an adjacent lane should be removed first and the source of the jam determined from the safety of the empty lane.
  • Don’t ignore rack damage.
  • Don’t ignore signs of structural failure, such as excessive beam deflection.
  • Don’t put off rack repair.
  • Don’t reconfigure pushback racking without proper authorization from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

Seeking additional guidelines for the safe use of storage racks? Purchase RMI’s publications “Considerations for the Planning and Use of Industrial Steel Storage Racks” and “Guideline for the Assessment and Repair or Replacement of Damaged Rack.”