Regardless of the age or condition of your pallet racking system, you should make regular professional inspections a priority. A proper pallet racking inspection can save you money, help protect you from liabilities, protect workers, and potentially saves lives. Always engage a qualified structural engineer who can review the current conditions of your system and the site conditions to assess your system’s capacity, adequacy, and safety.
Make professional inspections a priority at your business:
- To help ensure the safety of your employees
- To comply with legal requirements
- To comply with insurance requirements
All businesses must consider and mitigate safety concerns for their employees, customers, and others on their premises. The fact that a legacy system has not failed does not mean it is adequate or safe. Pallet racking systems support thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of pounds of material and a failure can lead to serious injury or fatalities. Even if a failure in your pallet racking system doesn’t injure a person, it can result in costly damage to products, property, and the racking itself. It may even cause a significant disruption to your business.
In the event of an accident the onus is on the company and its management team to demonstrate that they have taken the necessary measures, and performed due diligence, to ensure the adequacy and safety of the system.
Failures most often occur as a result of:
Damages affecting the system’s structural integrity – smaller damages can accumulate over time, seemingly having no impact. However those minor dents and dings are weakening the structure and rendering it more susceptible to collapse with every additional collision.
Inadequate engineering, design, or installation of the system – if the system is not professionally designed and installed it may be unstable or under capacity.
Overloading the system capacity – often the end user does not accurately know the systems capacity, which leads to overloading. Utilizing the rated capacity of the beams could overload the frames. The frames’ capacity is variable, depending on the beam configuration.
COR|CERTIFICATE OF RECOGNITION OR OTHER INTERNAL REQUIREMENTS
If your business is COR certified or you are working towards certification, you will need to regularly inspect and maintain your racking system and maintain proper documentation. To obtain COR Certification, a hired external auditor will inspect the health and safety systems that you have in place, followed by a certification review. Find out more about becoming COR Certified here.
Legal Considerations and Employer Responsibilities
Employer responsibilities for workplace safety and pallet racking storage structures are governed by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation, and Code; as well as the Criminal Code. Organizations are required to adhere to various building codes and municipal regulations with respect to the assembly and maintenance of pallet racking storage structures.
Please also keep in mind that employers and workers are required to assess a work site and identify existing or potential hazards before work begins – such as improper stacking, storing and /or securing goods on pallets and storage racks. Workers responsible for stacking, storing, or securing goods, materials, and equipment on pallets and storage racks must be trained in the safe methods for doing so.
Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada (formerly Bill C-45) states the following:
“217.1 Everyone who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task.”
As an owner, employer, or supervisor, you’re responsible to ensure a safe work environment for your employees. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges.
Most provinces have their own regulations regarding pallet racking. In British Columbia, “The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) contains legal requirements that must be met by all workplaces under the inspectional jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC.” Section 4.43.1 Storage racks defines the OHSR requirements for pallet racking in BC
Please note that there are some differences between Alberta OHS and BC OHSR regulations for pallet racking, including the following that apply in British Columbia:
- The regulation applies to all racking regardless of height, if it is loaded using equipment and any racking over 8 ft. if it is loaded by hand.
- The employer must have operational instructions readily available.
- Inspections, maintenance, and repair requirements are mandated and clearly defined.
Knowing the legal and safety requirements of your pallet racking system is a good starting point for meeting your insurance requirements as well. If an accident occurs involving your racking system, your insurance provider may not cover the damages. An adjuster would investigate the incident and your documentation to determine if due diligence was performed to ensure the system was designed to meet code and that sufficient inspections and maintenance had been performed to prevent the accident. Talk to your insurance provider to ensure you understand what’s required for your system and to determine if your inspection and maintenance program are enough.
Regular RACKING Inspections are Essential
Your racking system may have been properly engineered and installed to meet all legal, safety, and insurance requirements, but over time there are often an accumulation of events that render it no longer adequate. Or maybe you have a legacy system that was installed without engineering at a very different point in your business. All of this would be addressed during a professional inspection. Here are a few examples to consider for your own system.
A common misunderstanding of racking owners or warehouse supervisors is that it is ok to rearrange beam levels within their systems. Over the years beam levels are moved, added, and removed until it no longer resembles the original system design. The number of beam levels and their elevations has a tremendous impact on the capacity of the supporting frames. Any changes to the system should be reviewed by an engineer and in fact, it is an OHS requirement in most provinces.
Changing loads of stored goods
Similarly, as a business evolves, there are often changes to the product lines being stored on the racking. Load characteristics such as weight, weight dispersion, pallet dimensions, stacking pattern, etc. of these new products need to be considered to determine if your existing design is adequate.
Over time, components can become damaged, corroded, misaligned, loosened, dislodged, or even missing altogether. Any of these things, and even the overall age of the system, can reduce the capacity of the system.
Common questions about pallet racking inspection requirements
Section 8 of CSA A344-17 identifies the suggested frequency and scope of a proper inspection program. A summary of their recommendations is as follows:
- Owner to perform monthly inspection
- Expert inspections annually
- Compare current system to most recent engineered layout and elevation drawings
- Identify damages
- Identify missing components
- Identify improperly installed or misaligned components
- Identify unsafe or improper operating and housekeeping practices
Engineers use a variety of resources including the Building Code, CSA, and their experience to help ensure the structures are designed, manufactured, and installed to meet code and perform as intended.
National / Provincial Building Codes
The design of racking systems is governed under the Provincial Building Codes, under Steel Structures (In Alberta, the code is 1,300 pages). As per the code, “it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that any structure of this nature, that are on their premises or used by their employees, are designed, manufactured, installed, and maintained to meet code”.
- S-16-14 Design of Steel Structures.
- S136 North American specification for the design of cold-formed steel structural members
- G40.20-13/G40.21-13 General Requirement for rolled or welded structural quality steel / Structural quality steel.
What to expect from a Cam Industrial pallet rack inspection
Our Inspection Cycle includes several steps for our engineers follow to help ensure your system is compliant with OHS law.
The Inspection Process
Assessment. We determine what information and documentation exists, the size of the project, and your needs. We provide you with a proposal for the inspection.
Field Inspection. A thorough inspection is completed to confirm the details of your system and document deficiencies.
Drafting and Engineering. Drawings will be updated or created, and system capacities will be calculated based on the field inspection data.
Report. Our engineers will provide a detailed report that includes: drawings, capacities, engineering notes, deficiency list with images, material take off for repairs and replacement components, and a quotation to supply and install the replacement components.
Repairs and Replacements. We will supply and install all necessary repair services and components required to address the deficiencies noted.
Final Review and Certification. Our engineering team will review the repairs and update and stamp your report to include the completed.
Internal Inspection. Between expert inspections, owners should perform regular inspections.
Looking for more information?
Read our other Articles:
- Safety Committee Guidelines for Pallet Racking Safety Inspections
- Design & Maintenance for Pallet Rack Safety