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Safe loading of racking solutions is paramount

Racking and storage solutions are a vital part of many operations across the UK, making the issue of good housekeeping and safe loading, paramount. Here Matt Danhieux, Designer at Rapid Racking offers some simple tips for the safe loading of shelving and racking solutions, no matter what the application.

1. How sure can you be that the size, shape and weight of products will always be the same?

Changes to product lines and packaging materials can have a bigger impact on overall load per carton or pallet than you might think. A decision made by a Sourcing Manager for example can have a significant impact on where and how particular products are stored, and on what type of storage system.

When purchasing pallet racking for your warehouse, the size and capacity of the racking is selected and designed based on the size and type of pallet being used. Rack users must therefore be cautious when introducing any other type of pallet because the change in weight and load could have disastrous effects– the safest option therefore is to seek advice from an expert.

2. Uniformly Distributed Loads (UDL)
UDL is often overlooked but in simple terms describes the way in which the load is spread across the surface area. An uneven weight distribution can negatively affect the stability of the racking and therefore the security of the items stored, which has significant safety implications.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) state that employers should take appropriate steps to indicate the weight of a load and, the heaviest part of the load to help mitigate against any risks posed from unevenly distributed loads.

3. Provide a load notice at the end of each aisle
The Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) advises that all racking should display a load notice at the end of the aisle. It’s important to note that these signs are operational and therefore designed to contain visual information that is easily and quickly understood. If you require help and advice to compile the information, we would recommend speaking directly to your racking supplier.

4. Select racking systems with your material handling equipment in mind
Material handling equipment is a common sight in many applications and so, before purchasing new equipment, we advise you to check its suitability with your racking provider. Articulated trucks for example are ideal for use in narrow aisles but the pivoting action of the mast means that the pallet will be manoeuvred past the end frame of a racking run. Racking should therefore be set short of the wall to allow for access to the end storage location.

Material handling equipment will also have limited load capacities, so ensure that these match the specification of the items you are handling and, are compliant with your racking solution.

5. Safety features
Rack protection should be fitted to conform to the SEMA Standards, paying particular attention to vulnerable posts at the ends of runs where forklifts turn. Steel protectors must be installed for single posts and end frames must be installed where forklift knocks are in use.

When racking is positioned away from a wall, or adjacent to a pedestrian walkway, Anti-Spill Mesh should be fitted to prevent pallets being pushed through the rack.

It is also important to consider the number of levels that are permitted within a bay. Adding levels may seem like an obvious solution to a storage issue but this can exceed the frame capacity resulting in the entire rack collapsing and potential injury to personnel.

6. Regular safety checks
Each and every site requires a responsible person to carry out weekly and monthly safety checks on racking and safety features. This is particularly important where material handling equipment is in operation due to the potential for damage. SEMA advises that racking posts, with as little as 3mm deflection on a 1m section should be replaced immediately if any damage is recorded.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but offers a taster of some of the factors which must be considered in the specification and ongoing operation of racking and storage solutions. My key advice to anyone considering a new installation, a retrofit or even general maintenance, is if in doubt, seek advice. We are happy to help.

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