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Rack Safety Nets And Panels Stop Products From Falling, Part 1

Rack Safety Nets And Panels

Industrial steel storage rack is a great solution for maximizing overhead usable space in warehouses and distribution centers. But, thanks to gravity, storing items above floor level increases the risk of products tumbling to the ground. In addition to inventory damage, there’s the potential for injury to workers or damage to equipment. Fortunately, there are product containment solutions that mount to the back and sides of racking. Rack safety nets and panels made of steel mesh stop products from falling to protect personnel and machinery.

“Rack safety nets and panels are protective guarding devices that attach directly to the uprights and beams of pallet rack. Their presence prevents an item from tumbling to the floor should it fall off a stored pallet,” said Jonathan Hirst, Vice President and General Manager at North American Storage. The company is a member of the Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI).

A rack owner can add either type of rack mounted guarding during system installation, or later on as a retrofit. Either way, “there are several scenarios in which a rack manufacturer will recommend these types of product containment solutions,” noted Hirst.

What Are Rack Safety Nets?

Rack safety nets are also known as protective guard netting, rack guard netting, overhead netting, and safety netting. They consist of a flexible woven mesh made of synthetic materials that stretches to catch falling items. They return to their original shape after the item is removed.

Each net is custom made to match the dimensions of the full height and length of a row of rack. Net openings are typically 2 x 2 inches, which is usually rated for a 2,500-pound pallet. Heavier loads — such as 3,000 pounds or more — may require a tighter, 1 x 1-inch mesh to achieve higher load retention capacity. “It’s important to consult the netting supplier to verify capacity,” said Hirst.

Lightweight and strong, rack safety nets are also soft and highly compressible for easy shipping. “An enormous net can fit into a single small box, which keeps shipping costs down,” he explained. “Every net is custom made to match the size of a full aisle of pallet rack. They are finished with a cord bound around their perimeter.”

Prior to installing, a high-tension perimeter wire attaches via offset brackets to the racking structure. Clips or carabiners spaced at equal intervals connect the edge of the net to the wire. The netting is typically installed from the first beam level to the full height of the top pallet.

“If the top pallet is also resting at the top beam level — with no additional upright height — rack manufacturers use post extensions to ensure the netting stretches above the top of that pallet load,” Hirst said. “This ensures full containment, top-to-bottom.”

Rack Safety Nets And Panels

What Are Steel Mesh Containment Panels?

Steel mesh containment panels are also known as rack fencing, rack safety panels, rack guarding, and rack back. Constructed in panels ranging in size from 4 to 5 feet tall and widths up to 12 feet, they feature welded wire mesh attached to a steel frame. Their rated capacity is dependent on both the gauge of wire used and the grid spacing of the mesh.

“Again, it’s critical to verify capacity with the steel mesh containment panel manufacturer or supplier,” added Hirst.

Rigid and heavy, each panel is offset mounted via brackets to the back of individual rack bays. They too can attach to post extensions to cover the top-most level of a rack structure.

“The panels are more expensive to ship than netting, but they provide a rigid physical barrier,” he said. “They’re more likely to stop a pallet that’s pushed too far into the rack than a net.”

Additionally, the Protective Guarding Manufacturers Association (ProGMA) developed ANSI MH31.1 – Steel Mesh Containment Panels Used in Vertical Storage System Applications: Performance and Testing Requirements. Rack owners, designers, purchasers, and specifiers of racking can use the standard when comparing different manufacturers’ panels.

The next post will detail key areas and scenarios where rack safety nets and panels can reduce the risk of falling products causing injuries or damage.

Rack Safety Nets And Panels

Learn More About Protective Rack Guarding

Looking for more insights into protective rack guarding and devices like rack safety nets and panels? RMI offers several resources and publications. The recently updated “Considerations for the Planning and Use of Industrial Steel Storage Racks” includes a section on guarding. Additionally, the members of RMI are available to discuss the options and make recommendations. For more information, visit mhi.org/rmi.