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Safety committee guidelines for pallet racking safety inspections

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The Employer’s Responsibility

An employer is responsible to ensure they are compliant with all regulatory codes, however racking structures are complex, and most companies lack the internal expertise to ensure compliance. In response to injuries and fatalities caused by pallet racking failures in recent years, OHS and CSA have created standards, regulations (laws), and guidelines for the safe design, installation, and maintenance of pallet rack structures.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation, and Code; as well as the Criminal Code cover an employer’s responsibility with respect to workplace safety and pallet racking storage structures. Assembly and maintenance of pallet racking is also governed by various building codes and municipal regulations. As with any workplace, employers and workers are required to assess a work site and identify existing or potential hazards before they begin work. Common hazards with pallet racking might include improper stacking, storing or securing goods on pallets and storage racks.

It’s important that workers are well trained on proper and safe stacking, storing, or securing goods, as well as the equipment they use to do their work.

Safety committees play an important role in every business. Completing pallet racking safety inspections is just one responsibility of many. When you consider all the areas they need to cover during their regular inspections, you quickly come to appreciate how difficult it is to be an expert in all of them. Inspecting your pallet racking takes a well-trained eye. Potential dangers and code violations are not always immediately obvious.

Routine inspections are necessary and required

Regular pallet racking safety inspections are crucial not just for safety, but also for legal and insurance requirements as well. If you haven’t done an internal inspection recently or had an expert inspection in the past year, you should plan to do both as soon as you can. There may be serious hazards or code violations that you’re not even aware of.

Section 8 of CSA A344-17 recommends a proper inspection program that includes:

  • Owner performed monthly inspection
  • Expert inspections annually

What to look for in your inspection

During your monthly inspection, you should be looking for more than just obvious signs of damage. Section 8 of CSA A344-17 also recommends the scope of your inspection program includes the following:

  • 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

While your racking system may have been properly installed to all safety and building code requirements, over time there is an accumulative effect of different events that might significantly impact its integrity. A few common things to look for include:

  • Rearranged beams such as moving, adding, or removing beam levels can have a tremendous impact on the capacity of the supporting frames. OHS in most provinces requires that any changes be reviewed by an engineer.
  • Changed load of stored goods is common as a business evolves, but the weight, weight dispersion, pallet dimensions, stacking pattern, and other factors need to be reviewed to ensure your pallet racking design is adequate for the changing goods.
  • Damage accumulation can significantly reduce your systems capacity. Look for damaged, corroded, misaligned, loosened, dislodged or missing components.

Meeting code requirements

Understanding what codes and standards you must follow will help you identify when you’re not compliant. Many safety committees don’t have an expert when it comes to these requirements, which makes your annual expert inspection even more important. That expert inspection should identify any areas where you’re not compliant and provide guidance on how to fix the situation. If you aren’t comfortable with your understanding of your code requirements, it is worth your while to engage an experienced engineer to help you with any changes or damage assessments, so you remain compliant. cam|industrial offers support for both inspections and design.

You can look for these most common reasons for code violations in pallet racking:

  • Your design has not been approved by a professional engineer
  • System or components were not professionally installed
  • There have been alterations from the initial engineered design
  • Lack of proper maintenance, not professionally repaired, or damages exist
  • Your system has not been inspected by an expert according to CSA guidelines

Important questions about your pallet racking compliance

To help you understand how well you’re doing with your pallet racking safety inspections, here are a few questions to ask your team during the next safety committee meeting.

    1. When was our most recent internal inspection?
    2. Has it been more than 1 year since an expert inspection?
    3. If a serious incident occurred, do we know who OH&S would talk to and who would be held accountable?
    4. What documentation exists regarding the system’s capacity and where is it located?
    5. Is our documentation current and does it reflect all the changes made since the original installation?
    6. Has our documentation been certified by an engineer verifying that it was designed and installed to meet building code standards?
    7. What documentation do we have detailing the inspections and maintenance performed over the years?
    8. Is everyone comfortable with the current risk exposure?

Get help when you need it.

Most businesses need help with more than just their annual expert inspection.

At cam|industrial, we partner with companies to support all their pallet racking needs from annual inspections, assessing and repairing damage, and designing systems that help you as your needs change. Email us today with any questions or to find out more.

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Looking for more information?

Read our other Articles:

  • Design & Maintenance for Pallet Rack Safety
  • 3 Reasons or Racking Inspections
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