According to the Australian Standard AS 4084:2012 – Steel storage stacking, it is recommended that your pallet racking be inspected by a licensed racking inspector at least once per year.
The purpose of each inspection is to assess the structural integrity of the pallet racking, identify signs of potential damage – either due to rust or corrosion, impact by a pallet or forklift, or poor installation –, and make sure that any recent modifications are done in accordance with Australian Standards.
After each inspection, you will get a detailed report that tells you about the current condition of the pallet racking, if there are signs of damage or safety concerns, and recommendations on how to ensure the safety of your staff.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for an annual inspection to assess your pallet racking. By doing a routine visual inspection yourself, you can spot the early signs of damage and potential safety hazards, and then take the necessary steps to resolve the issue – before it can cause a serious accident.
While a DIY inspection does not replace the need for an authorised inspection, doing so will help ensure the safety of your staff and keep you compliant with the latest Australian Standards.
What to look for when inspecting your pallet racking
According to WorkSafe Australia, pallet racking should be inspected frequently for damage and overloading.
Consider the following when you perform a visual inspection of the racking at your worksite:
- Overloaded beams: This occurs when the amount of stock placed onto the beam exceeds the recommended weight limit. As a result, the two connected beams deform and form a distinctive ‘V’ shape. Depending on the severity of the bend this damage can be permanent and require a full beam replacement.
- Damaged beams and welds: Racking beams are often at risk of impact by nearby pallets and forklifts, which can affect their structural integrity. Any damaged beams should be assessed by a trained inspector so they can decide if it needs to be replaced.
- Missing beam connectors and safety clips: Examine the beams for damage and replace any missing safety clips. Make sure the replacement safety clips are installed properly and that they comply with the manufacturer specifications. If any safety clips are frequently popping out, have a licensed inspector assess the issue, so they can track down the source of the problem and propose a solution.
- Popped out beams: When a beam pops out, this means the beam is only suspended on one end. If left unresolved the beam could collapse.
What about workplace signage?
Aside from performing a visual inspection of the racking, you should also make sure the correct signage is in place. These include the correct placement of hanging signs, aisle markers, rack load notices, and health & safety signs.
These signs should make it easy for staff to identify floor locations from a distance, know the proper load capabilities of each rack, and take the necessary steps to keep themselves and other workers safe.
On top of this, the signage should be up to date with current Australian Standards, and show information that is relevant to the current racking configuration. Therefore, if any modifications have been recently made, you will need to update the relevant signs so that they display the correct information
Watch out for these other signs of racking damage
- Uprights and footplates: The most common types of damage to upright frames include twisting and the presence of splits or cracks. Any damaged upright frames should be replaced immediately to prevent the risk of collapsing. Furthermore, make sure any replacement splices you use are compatible with your type of upright frame.
- Out of plumb (aka leaning): Most pallet racks lean due to poor installation. But they can also lean as the result of impact, overloading, the settling of the floor slab, and height adjustments made to the racking. If you suspect a pallet rack is leaning, use a plumb bob, long level, or a laser line to determine if the column is on an angle.
- Braces: Examine each type of brace found on the rack, including the horizontal, diagonal, and spine braces. Any bent or damaged braces should be immediately replaced. Loose braces should also be inspected and tightened if necessary.
- Floor fixings: Make sure all sleeve anchors screwed into the concrete slab are tight and rust-free. Also inspect the floor fixing for any signs of softness, splits, or cracking and have any damaged sections fixed or replaced. Plus, make sure there are at least two sleeve anchors for each footplate.
Routine inspections for greater safety and peace of mind
These are just some of the many details to keep in mind when you visually inspect your pallet racking. Of course, if you do notice any signs of damage or safety hazards, contact your equipment manufacturer and/or supplier and ask for a professional repair or replacement service.
How do you tell the difference between a minor or major sign of damage? Easy. Refer to the Damage Action Flowchart provided by WorkSafe Australia. This useful guide shows you how to assess the threat level of damage, how to secure the area to ensure your workers are safe, and how to properly resolve the issue.