Every day, millions of pounds of materials and goods are managed in warehouses around the country. As online purchases and the wider e-commerce sector continue to grow, the physical shelves of retail stores are increasingly being replaced by the shelves in warehouses around the country. Though virtually every American has enjoyed the benefits of receiving a package delivered to their doorstep, few of us stop to think about the millions of warehouse workers who help to move those packages towards their final destination.
In warehouses across the United States, one of the most common ways to store or stack pile items is with pallet racks. A pallet rack is a common piece of warehouse equipment that resembles a type of scaffolding. Pallet racks are used to store or hold goods stacked on pallets. In larger warehouses, pallet racks are often constructed from steel beams and uprights, and they may be several stories high to deal with large volumes of goods that are continuously moved and transported along the supply line.
Working around several stories of pallet racks holding hundreds of tons of heavy goods and merchandise can pose a serious risk for workplace accidents. For businesses that work in a warehouse environment, pallet rack safety should be a top priority for protecting the health and physical wellbeing of your workers.
Below, we take a quick look at the top warehouse racking safety standards and how your warehouse-based business can implement the best safety standards to pass any relevant pallet racking inspection.
Potential Dangers of Pallet Racks
Working around pallet racks in a warehouse-type setting comes with several, specific hazards. For workers who actually do the loading, lifting, and organizing of these racks, falls from high heights and/or from docks can lead to serious health issues. Though many warehouses manage their pallet rack packaging and merchandise with forklifts, there is almost always some sort of heavy lifting involved. This can lead to back injuries and other musculoskeletal issues due to improper lifting techniques.
As with any physically laborious job, slips, trips, and falls are another issue that could affect the health and wellbeing of workers. Protruding packages can also lead to workplace hazards, especially if forklifts and other machinery have to maneuver in small or tight areas. Accidental forklift accidents with pallet racks can lead to falling packages and even knocking over entire assemblies of pallet racks.
All of these unique workplace hazards make working around pallet racks one of the more dangerous jobs in the country. Furthermore, as consumer demand continues to drive the e-commerce sector of the economy, more warehouses are being developed, thus creating more employment for people in the warehouse sector. Recent statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics state that the number of warehouse-based employees has doubled from 645,200 in 2010, to 1,304,900 in 2020, and is forecasted to reach almost 2 million employees by 2030.
Furthermore, data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019 found that the average rate of recorded injuries in the warehousing industry was at 4.8 for every 100 full-time workers. Though not all of those injuries can be attributed to pallet rack hazards, unsafe pallet rack safety precautions were certainly responsible for many of those recorded injuries.
Top Warehouse Racking Safety Standards
To protect your employees, avoid costly injuries to your workforce, and ensure compliance with all relevant OSHA regulations, it is important to implement the best warehouse racking safety standards.
These specific safety standards can include:
- The utilization of steel guardrails and protective bollards to strengthen the structure of all pallet rack installations.
- Ensuring proper anchoring of your storage racking to the warehouse floor. Pallet racks should never be freestanding, but rather need to be properly secured to the walls and flooring.
- Implementing regular storage racks inspections to ensure that nothing is damaged.
- Never exceeding storage rack capacity. This goes for both weight, height, and bulk. Furthermore, all employees need to be properly trained on this issue.
- Placing loads squarely on the racking system, and promptly fixing any protruding packages that may unbalance the loads.
- Lastly, you may also consider hiring a third-party team to help you design and implement the best pallet rack safety standards in your warehouse-based business.
Stack Safely With Work-Fit
Work-Fit is a leading onsite and telehealth injury prevention and wellness management service for your workforce with years of experience in helping businesses from all different industries to create and implement holistic injury prevention programs.
Our injury prevention management program is a great tool for helping to improve the safety and wellbeing of your workers. We have a team of exercise physiologists, health and fitness professionals and athletic trainers that are all trained in the top safety standards for dozens of industries.
Contact Work-Fit today to see how we can help your company develop the best pallet rack safety standards for your business!