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The Importance of Pallet Rack Capacity Plaques

Rack Capacity Plaque

Every pallet rack operator must ensure accurate and clear display of rack capacity plaques on each racking system. These capacity plaques not only visually represent the load capacities for rack storage but also serve as official records of the originally approved beam and elevation configuration. 

Furthermore, capacity plaques provide valuable information about the original rack supplier, which proves useful when references are needed for any changes to the storage configuration. 

In addition to displaying load limits, capacity plaques assist workers in ensuring compliance with Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) regulations in their province. Adhering to the required load capacities displayed helps maintain a safe and secure working environment. 

Regulations for Rack Capacity Plaques: 

 

a) National Building Codes of Canada (NBCC) 

The National Building Codes of Canada (NBCC) outline general requirements for rack capacity, including key considerations for seismic and environmental factors that can influence building stability. 

When designing and installing pallet racks, it is crucial to reference these codes, especially the seismic and environmental load factor codes, to understand their impact on the slab and racking capacity. Ensuring structural integrity under various conditions is a critical safety consideration at every stage of the process. 

b) Canadian Standards Association (CSA)  

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) provides valuable resources in the form of Annex N of S16-19 and the ‘User Guide for Steel Storage Racks,’ version A344-17. These documents outline technical requirements and recommendations for safe pallet racking design and construction, respectively. 

For both CSA documents, it is advisable to consult with a racking professional specializing in structural engineering. They can help translate the technical language into practical loading tips for safety.  

As for the CSA User Guide for Steel Storage Racks version A344-17, Clause 7.3 focuses on ‘Load Limits’, providing business owners with guidance for capacity plaques compliance. 

Here are the sections under ‘Load Limits’ you can use as a checklist for your business: 

What you should know as an owner: 

“Owners should institute training or procedures that will ensure the weight of loads placed in the racks do not exceed the load capacity of the rack structure. The method used should be selected based on the nature of the facility in which the racks are located.” [Clause 7.3.1]  

 This can be done by, but is not limited to  

  • the use of warehouse management software; 
  • load plaques or drawings in conjunction with awareness of the weight of the pallets being stored; 
  • trained operators using approved storage procedures; and 
  • ensuring the unit load capacity of the rack is equal or greater to the heaviest pallet load allowed in the facility.  

 Here we have Clause 7.3.2 which encompasses Clauses 7.3.2.1 to 7.3.2.5; detailing five (5) essential requirements from CSA for your capacity plaques. 

5 Requirements for Capacity Plaques:

 

1. Plaques Should be Easily Seen:

Load plaques or drawings should be posted in a prominent location where they can be readily and clearly viewed. [Clause 7.3.2.1]  

2. Plaques Should Show Bay Capacity & Maximum Allowable Unit Load:

 Where load plaques or drawings are used they should establish the bay capacity as well as the maximum allowable unit load on beam levels. [Clause 7.3.2.2]  

 3. Plaques Should Reference Professional Drawings for Loading:

 Load plaque should include a reference to drawing(s) or other approved documents that establish the maximum permissible loading for the given rack bay configurations. [Clause 7.3.2.3]  

 4. Plaques Should Be Used – Not Beam Capacity Labeling:

 Labeling load limits on beams is not recommended. Labels on beams can misrepresent load limits when beams are used in bays that have been reconfigured or relocated. [Clause 7.3.2.4] 

 5. Plaque Drawings Should Have Site Location Address:

 Drawings should include the site address for the racking installation. Moving or relocating the racking requires engineering review and approval. New drawings and load plaques will need to be issued. [Clause 7.3.2.5] 

Capacity Plaques Diagram - CSA

What Should Be Displayed on Rack Capacity Plaques: 

 

In accordance with the CSA A344-17 user guide, it is advisable for pallet racking capacity plaques to present clear and concise information on load capacity at a visible height on the frame. This ensures that employees, especially those in their training stage, can easily comprehend the weight capacity and configuration of a specific rack system. 

Display requirements include: 

  • Concise load values only. 
  • Specific load values for each storage position or pallet. 
  • Visible to operator from of every height 

 3 Key Capacity factors include: 

  1. Bay Maximum total load per bay which is summation of load on every level. 
  2. Elevation Number and spacing in the original rack design. 
  3. Maximum Load Maximum allowed unit load per level for combined materials and pallets. 

Below we distinguish between what is not recommended, specifically Beam Capacity Labels, and what is advised, including the CSA-recommended typical load plaque as well as a detailed illustrative load plaque crafted by our in-house professionals. 

Pallet Rack Capacity Plaques and Capacity Beam Labels

c) Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS)  

 

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) prioritizes overall pallet rack safety during the installation stage, with specific emphasis on the importance of noting modifications to racking and alterations in load capacity. 

 Excerpt from CCOHS: 

Installation: “Only workers who have received adequate training and are familiar with rack assembly procedures should install racking systems. It is critical to ensure that the installation of new racking or modified racking (which alters the load capacity) complies with health and safety guidelines in your jurisdiction and is carried out in accordance with engineering reports and manufacturers’ instructions.” 

Other rack safety guidelines for compliance include: 

  • Qualifications for installing racking 
  • References to professional engineers and manufacturers.  
  • Noting that installing modified racking alters load capacity 

Rack Modification Compliance: Engineer-Approved Load Calculation  

 

If a business owner intends to alter the contents stored at any rack level, an engineer must first calculate the correct load to ensure the rack can handle it and meet compliance requirements. 

Even minor changes, such as adjusting beam heights or adding/removing beams, can significantly impact load-bearing capabilities. These adjustments must be approved and reflected on the rack capacity plaques accordingly, requiring recertification. 

Conclusion 

Whether you’re installing new racking or adjusting beam levels to accommodate inventory changes, it’s crucial to display rack load capacity plaques on each system, ensuring compliance with local OHS regulations. 

Consult our professional racking service providers to accurately calculate load capacities for your storage needs—remember, these values serve as permanent safety references in daily operations. 

For further information or assistance with rack load capacity plaques, contact our team at Cam Industrial. Our experienced in-house engineers are prepared to help you achieve compliance and long-term structural integrity for your business’s success. 

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We have new and used racking available and can assist you through the entire process including; the design and layout of your warehouse, inspecting existing or used racking, engineering, permitting, and installationContact us, we would love to contribute to your project.

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  • Safety Committee Guidelines for Pallet Racking Safety Inspections
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