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  • Writer's pictureKeith D Goodfellow (SARI)

Do I Need Racking Protection on my Pallet Racking?

Updated: Mar 7

Exposed elements of the storage system should have suitable racking protection fitted. This guidance is issued by SEMA and also by the HSE in HSG76. Suitable protection is especially important on exposed corners in areas of high activity such as uprights adjacent to main transfer aisles. It might also include faces of racking that adjoin busy aisles with a lot of through traffic or areas of high activity such as racks adjacent to marshalling or despatch areas where rack contact is more likely. You shouldn’t need rack protection to all uprights, and your truck drivers should be capable of accessing storage racks without regular contact with the structure. If they cannot then they shouldn’t be at the wheel of a truck and in such cases retaining is the solution! And don’t’ forget that retrofitting protection will reduce available clearances thereby increasing the likelihood of contact and possible damage.

Do bear in mind this protection is intended as a method of last resort and should not be seen as a positioning guide. There should never be regular contact between the truck/pallet and the rack structure. We will cover what sort of protection is suitable in another post.

When selecting protectors we would always recommend a good heavy-duty freestanding guard, and when fitting ensure adequate clearance off the upright. Where guards are fitted too close to an upright repeated impacts may cause ‘knifing’ damage as the guard flexes where all the force of the impact to the guard is concentrated on the top edge of the guard creating a high point impact where it hits the upright resulting in disproportionate damage. Fitting too close will also restrict inspection of the upright, footplate and floor fixings. SEMA recommend a minimum clearance of 25mm with 40-50mm being preferred.

We do not recommend the cheaper clip on type of guards that fit directly onto the upright. They may be a quick and easy solution but are no way as effective as solid securely bolted freestanding guards and only provide limited protection. Furthermore they must always be removed to allow regular inspection of the upright but can be extremely difficult to remove once fitted so are often simply left in place and in our experience do more harm than good since they can hide damage. Remember just because one of these guards is fitted there is no guarantee that there wasn’t any pre-existing damage or damage caused post fitting. I've inspected many warehouses where these guards have been removed for my inspection and the damage detected is well beyond that possible with the guard fitted.

End of rack runs may need more robust end of row protection that may take the form of Armco type crash barriers or tubular guards. This is particularly important where pallets are stacked at ends of runs since it is routine practice for drivers to stack pallets hard against end frames and this damages the uprights, bracing, and loosens floor fixings. Again a risk assessment will determine the need.

Please get in touch if you have any enquiries about your racking and we'll be happy to assist!

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