how to safely load a pallet rack

Racking is the keystone of every warehouse. Here are the main safety points to keep your business running smoothly.

1. Ensure Rack Capacity Signs are Updated and Accurate

  • Loading a system is a delicate balance. On the one hand, you want to make sure the racking is not overloaded; on the other, underloading the system is inefficient. Up-to-date engineering helps demonstrate the optimal threshold and how to maximize space.
  • In most facilities we visit, load capacity signs either illustrate updated capacities or are missing altogether.
  • Updated capacity signs are an easy and inexpensive way to add tremendous value to your operation and help you understand potential risks to your operation.

2. Forklift Training

  • Forklifts are one of the primary causes of warehouse accidents and racking damage.
  • Its essential operators know how to load and unload pallets safely, but even the best operator will make mistakes if the system is not optimized and set up correctly.
  • For example, placing a high-volume or heavy product on the top shelf creates unnecessary risks.
  • Ensuring forklift operators are appropriately trained and certified and that the racking system has end-of-column guards and other preventative measures will help eliminate the risk of human error.

3. Distribute Weight Evenly

  • The facility can determine product placement once you know how much weight each beam level can withstand and the type of load (uniformly distributed vs. line, point, or concentrated).
  • It’s essential to consider the spacing and utilization of heavier pallets and ensuring each beam level is balanced as much as possible.
  • RMI suggests storing the heaviest product on the floor or lower levels towards the middle of the rack, working towards the end of the rows and up to higher levels.

4. Provide Appropriate Clearance

  • Not allowing clearance between product and beam levels is an accident waiting to happen.
  • Ideally, pallets maintain a 4” gap from the frames, a 6” gap from another pallet, and a 10” gap from the pallet to the beam above.
  • Stacking products too tight makes retrieval and loading difficult and can become a fire safety hazard without appropriate flue spacing.

What is the best loading protocol for a pallet rack?

All storage rack systems are designed for the specified load in any location. The designer commonly assumes that the rack system will be loaded and unloaded randomly during its lifetime. An appropriate approach to fully load a racking system is to start at the bottom middle of the rack row and work outwards and upwards.