Best Practices: Rack Safety Surveys
Let’s paint a familiar picture found in warehouse operations. A dutiful warehouse manager relies on his operators to report any damage to racking caused by a forklift. The driver forgets – or omits – to tell his manager that an upright was damaged while retrieving a pallet. A few weeks and months pass, and the damage worsens. The manager discovers the damaged rack just a week before peak season hits. Because of the damaged upright’s position, he knows that several pallet positions will not be operational for a few weeks to repair the upright.
This real-world scenario is entirely preventable. Of course, proper training and communication could prevent damage from happening or worsening, respectively. However, facility and maintenance managers that utilize regular rack safety surveys will tell you that this preventative measure can go a long way to maintaining normal operations – especially during your busiest times.
According to the Rack Manufacturers Institute’s (RMI) guidelines, rack inspections should be performed on an annual basis, at the very least. However, racks in high traffic areas, with narrow aisles, in transfer aisles, cold environments, or equipment with prior damage, should be inspected more frequently – even as often as once per month.
Warehouse maintenance staff are often busy, spending their time ensuring operations are running smoothly, like making sure conveyors, dock doors, and critical day-to-day tasks are all functioning appropriately. They often cannot dedicate the proper resources (mostly, time) to ensure racking is safe. Third-party safety audits – regularly scheduled – could go a long way to ensure that your operations are always running smoothly.
Third-party pallet rack safety experts will also have more expertise in guidelines, specifications, and tolerances. They can answer questions like, “Does that upright need to be repaired or replaced?”, which maintenance associates may not have the expertise to answer. Third-party providers also help by taking some responsibility off warehouse and maintenance managers, who won’t need to worry about scheduling surveys and following any action plans.
Similarly, full-on safety audits can be scheduled to also look at fall hazards, pedestrian traffic areas, and identifying areas for additional products like guardrails and column protectors. They can also ensure that your facility is up-to-code from an OSHA standpoint, relieving your operations of fines or penalties down the road.
If you have not participated in a rack safety survey recently or think your facility is due for a fresh set of eyes to improve the safety environment, give us a call. One of our warehouse specialists will help ensure you are aware of your facility’s pain points, and also deliver an action plan to tackle the highest priority items to provide a focus for your team going forward.