Causes of Rack Collapses in Warehouse & Ways to Prevent Them

July 10, 2021

A pallet rack collapse can be a problematic thing for any warehouse. There are situations when a forklift causes warehouse collapse, or any other forklift hits rack, or improper warehouse management leads to a major warehouse rack collapse situation. You should always be on the lookout for such accidents with all racks and other proper shelving units

You should be looking to steadily improve warehouse operations and stop any potential warehouse racking accidents likewise. All warehouses are highly accident-prone, and they are set up for several such issues. Whenever heavy loads remain stored on racks, product falls and collapses are always concerns with regard to overall safety. Warehouses that are buzzing have many workers and employees, and they will be at risk if there is any major accident. Here are some of the key aspects worth keeping in mind: 

  • Lift Trucks- Drivers may be careless at times, leading to accidents, including a rack and lift, leading to a domino effect and collapses. You should take steps to combat such scenarios, including building out your overall aisle space, giving minimum allotted space for lifts to travel and work. Taking a pallet overhang on both aisle sides will help in building an outline. End frames and columns are fragile and protect them with button-on, poly snap-on, bolted steel, or floor-anchored parts. Minimize clutter in aisles. 
  • Overloading- Beam capacity depends on several factors, although weight loading should be distributed evenly. Integrity may be compromised for beams with damaged pallets or even high-density loads. However, ensure that you check all weight-bearing aspects and how things are stacked. 
  • Load Clearance- Tighter clearances between the pallet and rack will put forklift drivers more at risk of making mistakes. Rack collapse may take place in case major loads are put on racks instead of static loads. Contemporary warehouses can solve this with cutting-edge laser guides that enable better driver visibility and obstruction-free loading. The laser-line tools will align forklift times with the amount of space required for loading purposes. 

Key reasons for the collapse of pallet racks 

  • Damage to Forklift- Forklifts may sometimes be damaged or malfunctioning and may crash into the pallet racks, leading to a collapse. 
  • Errors in installation- Warehouse pallet rack installation will be a highly complicated setup. Although racks resemble stacked-up pallets and other shelves, the installation will need thorough planning. There are numerous components that have to be installed within a rack system for greater safety and stability alike. A properly designed racking system may collapse if there is improper installation and maintenance. Wrong parts attachment, loose fittings, and so on may lead to racking collapses. 
  • Design Constraints- Several racks in warehouses are custom-tailored since standard-size racks may or may not have the capability for specific needs. A warehouse pallet rack design will require ample dynamic and static force calculations such as rack sustainability, loading stress operationally, speed calculation, and forklift travel distance. If there is any deficiency in design, then the rack may collapse suddenly. 
  • Uneven Loading- Uneven loading in warehouse racks may lead to accidents and other damages. Rack edges are usually fabricated and welded while being weaker at their joints. Uneven distribution of load may lead to failure of specific sections of racks owing to stress. 
  • Uprights and Beams Overloading- Warehouse racks have exposure to both horizontal and vertical loading stresses. The horizontal stress is distributed through beams where vertical force is distributed via uprights. Both uprights and beams are tailored for specific bending stress, therefore breaking and bending in case of any overloading. The failure due to upright and beam overloading is something that can be mitigated in advance. Hence, within the primary bending system, overloading may be combated, and damages may be bypassed at the outset. 

Avoiding Collapses of Pallet Racks

  • Setting up rack protection- A small outlay for rack protection installation will help in bypassing sudden collapses of warehouse racks. The pallet rack system comes with numerous moving parts, and operators are humans who cannot always be fully vigilant. They are vulnerable to sudden falls and accidents. Hence, rack protection installation is important, including aisle column and end of aisle protectors. 
  • Lower Speed Limit- For bypassing any potential accidents and keeping things safer, reducing speed limits is really essential. High-speed operations of forklifts may lead to some serious accidents and other mishaps. For combating such situations, you should always have the speed limit reduced or come with a safe speed limit that everyone should adhere to. 
  • Holding training of operators- Inexperienced and unskilled operators are more likely to start panicking and end up making costly mistakes in the bargain. Make sure that you properly train operators prior to handing over controls.