Pallet racking systems deliver a range of benefits to your warehouse, from streamlining stock management to increasing storage capacity. However, without proper installation, checks and compliance measures, these structures can pose serious safety threats.

The HSE’s Warehousing storage: keep it safe guide lists the industry’s top safety priorities as slips and trips, manual handling, musculoskeletal disorders, working at height and workplace transport. Lax storage practices heighten these risks – and increase your odds of accidents, health concerns and costly civil claims.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, all employers must assess workplace hazards and take reasonable steps to control them. So once you’ve safely set up your storage system, you also need to meticulously inspect and maintain it.

Our warehousing sector experts share top tips on raising your racking safety standards:

  • Correct installation. Your pallet racking framework should be fitted by a qualified specialist with solid experience of your specific type of system. During construction, quality companies will ensure the space is evenly levelled and that structures are firmly fixed to the ground. When choosing a supplier, feel free to review their credentials and customer feedback for extra peace of mind.
  • Regular checks. Each part of your racking system plays a role in retaining the structure and keeping it safe for use. Routine inspections of the upright frames, beams, pallets, locking pins and wired decking will identify and solve problems quickly and easily. The HSE recommends three types of assessments to stay on top of possible pitfalls. These include immediate reporting of damage and defects, frequent visual inspections and ‘expert’ audits carried out by a competent person.
  • Protective netting. Fixing a wired net or steel mesh around the external part of your racking system prevents stock falling to the ground and posing a potentially lethal crushing risk. To reduce hazards further, take care not to overcrowd shelves or push goods through the rear of racking when positioning loads.
  • Column guards. Vehicle impacts – including minor forklift bumps – weaken the integrity of your racking system and can render it unfit for use. By adding column guards, you can avoid direct hits to your framework and cut the danger of a structural collapse. Available in a range of options, from disposable foam wraps to permanent floor-mounted steel protectors, these high-visibility safety solutions alert drivers to warehouse collision risks and help them steer clear of uprights and legs.
  • Safe ways of working. Train your team on responsible warehouse working methods, covering compliant transport, loading and unloading practices. You should only ever use pallets that are compatible with your particular racking system and ensure staff are competent in approved pallet and stock management. This includes understanding the importance of maximum weight loads, stable stacking heights and safe shelf capacity.
  • Open communication. Encourage your workers to take a leading role in the safety culture of your warehouse by proactively looking for and immediately reporting damage to pallets or racking systems. In turn, management should not only swiftly investigate and rectify safety issues, but also reward employees’ commitment to compliance.

For decades, Southalls has helped warehousing businesses prevent workplace incidents and boost their overall safety performance. To train your team on specific safety skills or map out a more cost-effective compliance strategy, speak to our warehousing sector specialists on 0345 247 4015.