Manufacturing and warehousing racking environments create severity exposures that are typically overlooked or not considered by material handlers and employees working around storage racking systems. With forklifts maneuvering back and forth and constantly lifting and lowering heavy loads co-workers don’t realize that pallets do fail and quiet often operators make judgment errors that result in falling materials. When that happens, it is conceivable that racks will fall over crushing workers and materials do fall from forklift forks striking and seriously injuring workers.
Quite often when inspecting client operations, we find older racking systems that have been around for a long time or have moved from location to location without having the weight capacities listed on the racks. As a result, these racks are overloaded and material handlers are unaware of the fact they are overloading the racks and creating a severity exposure for their co-workers. When you notice this situation, it is important that you contact your engineering department to have the rack weight capacities certified/verified to have the racks replaced.
To avoid these pitfalls, racking systems should be inspected at least monthly to make sure the racks are in compliance with OSHA standards and they have been safely and properly installed, loaded and without damage. While OSHA does not have a standard racking guideline, they do site the general clause which states employers shall provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards. Whether your racks are damaged or installed improperly they can create a workplace hazard that can be found in violation of the regulation and result in a fine/citation. Fines typically result from damaged or smashed racking, non-engineered repairs or modifications, unposted weight capacities and racks not being anchored to the floor.
To help you with your rack storage compliance and safety we have created a downloadable self-inspection checklist to assist you in the process. Or, should you require assistance inspecting your racking systems, please contact Three Sixty Safety directly.Rack-Storage-Inspection-Checklist-Form.pdf (2594 downloads)
This post by Travis Rhoden is a synopsis of how to maintain OSHA compliance for your rack storage.
There are two primary federal OSHA regulations that are applicable to storage racks:
1910.176(b), states that stored items must be secured. The regulation doesn’t specifically address racking; rather, it’s a general stacking requirement, to keep materials from falling over or collapsing.
1910.159, deals with the height of any storage materials in relationship to fire sprinklers. There must be 18 inches between the top of the racked materials and the sprinklers.
General duty clause
For most racking issues, OSHA uses the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act to hold employers responsible for protecting workers from serious and recognized hazards, often referencing the equipment manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions and/or the requirements in the industry standard ANSI/RMI MH16.1 – Specification for the Design, Testing and Utilization of Industrial Steel Storage Racks.
What follows are three racking issues that OSHA frequently cites under the General Duty Clause (these are based on actual OSHA citations issued to employers):
Rack columns not anchored to the floor OSHA recommends that the bottom of all columns be furnished with column base plates, and be anchored to the floor with anchor bolts capable of resisting the forces caused by the loads on the rack.
Load ratings not present on racking OSHA recommends that load ratings be present which provide the maximum permissible unit load and/or maximum uniformly distributed load per level, the average unit load, and maximum total load per bay. See ANSI/RMI MH16.1 for additional information.
Damaged racking OSHA recommends that the employer develop a maintenance and inspection program for storage racks. The program should include keeping aisles clear and providing sufficient clearance for material handling equipment. Also, ensuring racks are properly aligned, plum, and level, per manufacturer’s instructions. Employees should promptly report any damage to racks.