On the 18th November 2018, dramatic CCTV footage, was uploaded to Facebook. The footage, filmed last year, shows the catastrophic moment a forklift truck clipped the upright section of pallet racking in a distribution warehouse resulting in a domino effect of racking collapsing and stock falling both on top of the forklift driver and surrounding area. This footage has now gone viral.
The CCTV footage reveals a pallet of stock left in the middle of the aisle causing the driver to need to try to squeeze between this stock and the racking. The gap isn’t quite large enough for the forklift to squeeze through without clipping the racking, causing the whole racking bay to collapse, followed by further neighbouring bays.
The driver remains in his forklift truck but both the condition of the driver after the accident and the location of the site are both still unknown, as the source of the footage has not been identified.
Whilst attracting a flurry of media interest, incidents of this nature are not unique. The risk of racking collapse is higher than you might think. In November 2017, a forklift truck driver was buried under tons of refrigerated food products as racking collapsed in a warehouse in Halesowen, West Midlands. It took 4 hours for fire crews to rescue him and he was lucky to be alive.
In May 2016 a forklift truck driver was trapped under tons of boxed cheddar cheese in a warehouse in Shropshire when his forklift truck struck pallet racking resulting in the racking and boxed cheese toppling and trapping him for a terrifying 9 hours. It took over 70 firefighters to rescue him but he survived and sustained no major injuries. He remained within the cab of the forklift truck and was luckily protected by the chassis.
In February 2009 a female worker was not so lucky when she was trapped and killed by collapsing racking at a warehouse in Northamptonshire. Desanka Todorovic, 44, of Corby, was standing next to racking when it collapsed resulting in heavy boxes of paper landing on her, causing fatal injuries. The racking that collapsed had been in a poor condition with important locking pins missing. An HSE prosecution followed.
Top Tips on Racking Safety
Whether your business has extensive bays of pallet racking as far as the eye can see or just a couple of areas of pallet racking, the following tips should be observed to safeguard your employees, customers, visitors and protect your stock from damage:
- Racking needs to be installed correctly, maintained and regularly inspected. We recommend you conduct monthly checks on the condition of your racking – check for knocks, deflection and cracks. Check locking pins are in place and racking is securely bolted into the ground. Racking Safety Awareness e-learning is available on Southalls Safety Cloud and is recommended for staff conducting racking checks.
- Offload racking and take bays out of use, or limit to storage of light items only, in event of evidence of damaged racking. If unsure seek further advice from a health and safety expert at Southalls or a racking inspector from SEMA.
- Ensure forklift truck drivers are trained to drive the particular type of forklift truck they are operating and provide familiarisation training for those new to your business.
- Encourage drivers to report any knocks or damage to racking immediately.
- Fit column guards in front of each racking upright and on corners to protect racking from accidental impact. Ensure these are located just in front and never touching the racking.
- Ensure the Safe Working Load signage is displayed on the racking and adhered to.
- Keep aisles clear to allow ease of access for lift trucks and ensure they operate at safe speeds.
- Any amendments to an existing racking system should be approved by the manufacturer or your supplier. Relocating beams, adjusting, reassembling or re-erecting racking without authorisation can result in an unstable and dangerous storage system.
- Mixing Materials from Different Systems – Integration of products from different manufacturers is highly dangerous and is unadvisable.