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Matt Florjancic

Warehouse rack inspections are not mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but they are recommended, and with good reason, as failing to do so could have disastrous consequences.

There are countless viral videos showing what happens to racking systems when struck by forklifts or overloaded with product. These structures can collapse, often causing a domino effect that damages / destroys millions of dollars of products.

Most importantly, should a completely preventable racking failure occur, people could experience severe injury or even death.

In the United States, the law stipulates that company management is responsible for providing a safe workplace for their employees. Putting workers at risk of injury can expose employers to serious liability in the event of an accident.

By controlling or eliminating hazards in the workplace, you help reduce the risk of an accident. Think about how quickly the costs of a workplace accident or fatality can add up, including:

  • Lost wages
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Low employee morale
  • Decrease in productivity
  • Workforce shortages
  • Potential legal fees and OSHA fines

In this article, we’ll answer the following questions:

  • Why are racking inspections becoming more common?
  • What is examined during a rack inspection?
  • When do racking systems need to be inspected?
  • What kind of inspection reports will warehouse managers receive?
  • What does a racking inspection cost?

Why Are Racking Inspections Becoming More Common?

In the last two years, OSHA has highly recommended companies use third-party partners to conduct rack inspections rather than an internal team member.

Before the recommendation, many larger companies conducted their own rack inspections with their own safety teams. Mazzella has seen companies take OSHA’s recommendation seriously. Our Racking Inspectors began inspecting maybe six facilities a year. Now, they’re doing six or more in a given month.

If your warehouse does not comply with OSHA regulations, you could be fined or forced to suspend your operations temporarily should an issue arise.

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What Are Inspectors Reviewing In These Inspections?

New pallet racking inspection

What you can expect from a good third-party company is the inspector(s) doing a from-the-ground visual inspection of the system. They will not get into lifts or climb onto the system in an unsafe manner. This is all a visual inspection, much like you’d expect if you were buying a home.

The inspector will examine the racking systems of each storage bay and note any issues. They will highlight the location of any issues, as well as the damage or misuse. Then, they will make recommendations of what to do. Once the information is gathered, the inspectors will go back to their office and create a deliverable report that includes photographs taken on-site and suggested fixes.

Reputable companies should deliver their reports to you in 7-14 days.

Most companies should want these inspections at least annually. That could be increased to quarterly, depending on how much traffic and how experienced your forklift operators are. Forklift issues cause about 90% of the damage Mazzella inspectors have seen.

What Are Key Points of Emphasis During Inspections?

There are many points of emphasis for inspectors when examining racking systems. Those points include:

  • Structural integrity
  • Signs of physical damage
  • Product application
  • Improper rack loading
  • Loose, missing, or damaged fasteners
  • Missing components
  • Modifications

Basically, third-party companies are there to ensure the rack is the proper type for the material being stored. Many times, when companies purchase an existing facility, they’ll “make do” with the racking systems already in place without asking, “Is this safe?”

Additionally, proper rack loading is important. Inspectors will look for overloading and improperly supported loads. If they look up, and you’re using a dangerous way of placing material onto the racks, they’ll note that somebody could get hurt.

Even though it’s not a structural issue, inspectors look for missing and damaged fasteners. That’s going to include floor anchoring.

Missing components could include the following:

  • Pallet stops
  • Crossbars
  • Wall ties

Inspectors have found modifications to be a big reason for failed rack inspections. They’re looking for non-engineered additions or repairs to your system. Sometimes, they have seen plate steel welded to the frame of the structure after it’d been hit by a forklift. While the damage may appear to be fixed, that’s not typically the case.

Based on pictures and measurements taken, inspectors can determine capacity calculations. Those plans then can be sent to a third-party engineer, who will certify each elevation. However, this step is rare because engineering sheets could cost as much as $1,500 each.

How Do You Prepare for an OSHA Racking Certification?

A thorough third-party inspection is highly recommended before starting an OSHA certification process. The inspection report will provide your business with an accurate assessment of the condition of your warehouse racking systems, including:

  • Proper installation
  • Unsafe modification
  • Missing fasteners
  • Unposted capacity

This will allow for necessary measures to be put in place to address issues before your OSHA visit. If your warehouse doesn’t comply with OSHA regulations, you could be fined, or forced to suspend your operations temporarily.

When Do Racking Systems Need To Be Inspected?

Pallet rack inspection frequency

Despite the demands of your daily operations, it’s critical your racking systems maintain their full integrity. When done correctly, rack inspection services are thorough, and performed by an expert to certify your racking systems comply with design and safety standards.

But when do racks need to be inspected? There are eight times in which a racking system should be inspected:

  • New rack installation
  • Compliance review
  • Collapse or damage
  • Regulatory audit
  • Safety initiative
  • Safety optimization
  • Reconfiguration review
  • Incomplete documentation

Mazzella experts suggest a minimum of an annual inspection of your warehouse racking systems. With forklift incidents being a main cause of racking system damage, if your facility pulls five pallets out of your racks a day, an annual inspection may be good for you.

If you have a high-volume facility, a quarterly inspection may be more appropriate. This includes warehouses that are moving five pallets in a short period of time (say for example five every 10 minutes). Your racks will likely see some impacts, especially with shift changes, personnel changes, and inconsistent operator experience.

What Does a Mazzella Racking Inspection Cost?

For a typical racking inspection, it will cost around $6,200. That total is going to cover a day of inspection, which is 90% of what most facilities require as far as our time needed to complete the work.

Additionally, that $6,200 covers all transportation expenses of the engineer or project manager being on site, coming back, and also, building the deliverable report.

How Can Mazzella Help with Your Warehouse Needs?

Mazzella warehouse solutions products and services

Mazzella has provided cutting-edge solutions for beverage and grocery distribution, retail, pharmaceutical, beverage manufacturing, electronics manufacturing, e-commerce, and general warehousing.

Our rack inspection service is thorough, and performed by a Mazzella expert, to certify your racking systems comply with rack design and safety standards.

Additionally, we have designed and implemented material handling and storage solutions for a variety of industries focusing on warehousing and manufacturing applications. This vast experience has provided us with a deep understanding of our clients’ most challenging requirements.

The systems we install include:

We are driven by a highly experienced team of experts working closely with our clients utilizing our resources in concert with our clients. Our designers, engineers, sales engineers, and project managers are experienced professionals and as such, strive daily to provide our projects to our clients “On-Time and “On-Budget.”

Call us at 800.664.3380 or click here to learn more about our warehouse solutions!

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Disclaimer: Any advice, graphics, images, and/or information contained herein are presented for general educational and information purposes and to increase overall safety awareness. It is not intended to be legal, medical, or other expert advice or services, and should not be used in place of consultation with appropriate industry professionals. The information herein should not be considered exhaustive and the user should seek the advice of appropriate professionals.