Warehouse Pallet Rack Safety – OSHA Recommendations

How many times have you questioned the stability or capacity of the racking in your warehouse? Is the load too heavy for the beams? Does the forklift operator know how to properly place the pallet in the rack? Can the uprights withstand a collision with a forklift? These are common and very reasonable questions. Every company should focus on internal safety and have or create an internal safety committee to address these concerns.  This can be a significant risk at many locations.

Following OSHA guidelines to the letter is still not enough to keep your employees safe. OSHA does not have regulations in place today for pallet racking, but you don’t have to go far to hear about a terrible accident that occurred with warehouse rack. Pallet rack safety is a crucial part of overall company safety and must be attended to. Employers should require pallet rack safety along with forklift training for every warehouse employee and manager.


Start by contacting a reputable material handling distributor, preferably one with an OSHA Alliance already in place. The distributor will be able to assist with the proper rack configuration, design specifications and the equipment to move the materials. They should also be able to do a repair or replacement survey of your existing pallet rack and submit a proposal to implement the plan. A qualified contractor will ensure your uprights are plumb, beams are level and connections are secure. Each upright must be properly anchored into the concrete floor according to industry standards. All beams should have a safety lock. Whether it is a nut and bolt or integral fastener, the safety lock will help prevent accidental dislodgement of the beams. It is strongly recommended that each beam and upright is properly labeled with the capacity of the component. Each beam’s capacity is labeled per pair and an upright’s capacity is for one assembly. Keep in mind; moving beam levels after the design is complete could affect the capacities and you should check with your distributor before making these changes.

Palletized loads should be made stable before being placed in the racking system. Move the load onto a quality pallet, stretch wrap the loose product, and / or use wire decking on the beams to prevent falling materials. Wire decking is designed to hold evenly distributed loads on the surface area of the deck, which would require the pallet to be placed on the beams as well. Your standard wire deck is NOT designed for point loading or concentrated loading. Have your distributor explain the difference and provide you with solutions to your special applications.

Never climb the pallet racking, maintain proper lighting and practice good housekeeping. Make inspections, routine maintenance and training part of your safety program. Inspections will turn up damaged uprights, beams and wire decks. Have a qualified contractor repair or replace damaged components immediately. Do not attempt to repair pallet rack internally, not only is this extremely dangerous to attempt, you will void your warranty and most likely be held liable if a failure should occur. For additional safety you should add post protectors to the pallet rack uprights and guardrails at the ends of the aisles to keep warehouse vehicles from contacting the rack. You should also use rack back guards to prevent pallets from accidentally being pushed through the back side of the system.

Contact us if we can help access your racking requirements.


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