Photo courtesy of Pashminu Mansukhani

Colorflex recently helped bring a warehouse back into compliance by installing over 100,000 pallet rack load capacity labels over a week-long period. This followed an OSHA-reportable rack failure that led to an injury. They say hindsight is 20/20, but OSHA violations usually have a few more zeroes attached to that figure.

From our own experience, we know a majority of warehousers and plant managers care about the safety and wellbeing of their employees. When an accident occurs, it’s usually a matter of a delegated task going unfulfilled. Goods and/or assets damaged by a rack failure may be covered by insurance, but the underwriters are sure to remember it the next time they reassess insurance premiums.

To keep your operation running smoothly, we’d like to highlight five common (and commonly overlooked) causes that lead to pallet rack failures, and of course… how to avoid them.

#1. Assuming a damaged rack is safe. In the busiest warehouses and manufacturing centers, practically no pallet rack is left unscathed. The problem is, it can be difficult to tell when a dented beam has compromised the load-bearing strength of the pallet rack. When in doubt, swap it out; continuing to use a damaged rack is not only an OSHA violation but also goes against American National Standards Institute MH 16.1, 2008, section 1.4.1(2).

#2. Racks with missing capacity labels. With the welded construction of riveted pallet racks, there are many compliance officers and safety teams that feel weight capacity labels are a thing of the past. Of course, the clipboard-wielding folks at OSHA would have to disagree with that sentiment. According to ANSI and OSHA’s always-vague guidelines, large labels detailing weight capacities should be applied so they can be easily read by forklift operators.

#3. Untidy, messy traffic lanes. Cluttered, disorganized work areas are a nuisance in most workplaces, but in a manufacturing or warehousing context, a messy aisle can (and does) result in accidents. Of course, it’s not always the clutter itself that is to blame, but people trying to work around the clutter that is the issue. One classic case in point was captured in one video from a cheese factory. (The forklift operator came out fine, but it took rescue crews 8 hours to free him from all those boxes of cheese.)

#4. Failing to mark or plan aisle widths. There is so much confusion out there regarding proper aisle width that OSHA has issued multiple memos touching on this matter. Aisle markings must be at least 2 inches wide and should be in a color that offers high visibility/contrast against the flooring surface. Aisle widths should be, at a minimum, three feet wider than the widest piece of equipment using the aisle.

#5. Making assumptions. Assumption is the mother of all regret, and the phrase “It looks like it will hold.” should never be uttered in a pallet racking situation. Employees and forklift operators should be trained to identify situations that could cause a pallet rack to become overloaded. The issue is, many pallet racks look similar, yet differences in manufacturers and material quality can reduce the overall strength of components. Therefore, assume nothing and never take a mix-and-match approach to racking parts.

Ask Us About Pallet Rack Load Capacity Labels

Proper labeling can’t prevent every warehouse and plant incident, but Colorflex can help ensure your facility remains in compliance. We manufacture some of the toughest, industrial-strength labels on the market. These are crafted using scratch-, gouge-, and impact-resistant polyester — not vinyl, which can be easily damaged, torn, or detached. Colorflex also uses high-quality adhesives to ensure labels remain in place, even in the dustiest and busiest work environments.

Visit our industrial labels page to learn more about our labeling capabilities, or speak with a Colorflex specialist for a quote on label printing and installation services.