Canadian Rental Association
CRA President’s Message: March 2016
By Tim Ranson
All warehouse storage systems, both indoors and outside, at rental store locations must be installed, used, inspected and maintained according to the manufacturers’ specifications. Safe work practices and inspection criteria are based on steel storage racking and shelving. The general application for shelving and racking is to store materials and tooling to allow better access and reduce the clutter on the floor. Housekeeping in every active work zone may often be improved by utilizing the correct storage system, including shelving, for hand loading and lighter materials, with storage bins or pallet racking predominantly used for heavier, palletized loads.
By Tim Ranson
Posts and beams are engineered to carry a specific capacity and must be installed correctly to ensure the safety of those in the work area. There are a few easily identified inspection points you should be aware of in your storage system. This is as simple as having an organized facility safety inspection on a monthly basis, with the proper storage of tools and materials as a continual observation point.
Other prime observation points for your storage inspection should consider capacity, structural integrity and proper storage of materials. Whenever changes are made, your inspector should check whether the racking is installed properly. The inspection should ensure racking is installed according to engineering reports and manufacturers’ instructions. Installation should only be carried out by workers who have received adequate training and are familiar with rack-assembly procedures. Storage racking for products on pallets should be designed specifically for the size, shape and weight of the products being stored. The racking design should be compatible with the pallets and the material-handling equipment in use within the workplace. Aisle width should match the turning circle of the forklift or other material-handling equipment used. Alteration of the uprights, bracings, beams or components, such as welding on additional components, should not be done unless supervised by a structural engineer.
Uprights, bracings, beams, clips or other components must be replaced using compatible parts. If compatible parts cannot be used, an engineering report should be obtained confirming the integrity and safe working limit of the racking using the alternative replacement parts. Due to recent changes to seismic engineering requirements, many jurisdictions now require that pallet racks be engineered and that installation instructions include end frames that are bolted to the floor and protected from damage. The integrity of a post in a racking system requires there be no damage and it stand 100 per cent plumb. If an end frame is damaged there is no way to determine at what point it might fail. If in your inspection you find the end frame has been compromised, the load on either side of the post must be removed until the damaged component can be replaced.
The safe working limit must be known and it is recommended to have the rated capacity in a visible location on the racking and including the manufacturer’s information. All loads should be evenly distributed between the front and back beams. If this cannot be attained, the load must be stored at ground level. Pallet racking systems are engineered to hold the load in an evenly distributed fashion – point loading will weaken the system and can cause a failure. Do not exceed the marked safe working limit for a unit load or the total load per bay of the racking. Boxes, cartons and other such items stored on pallets should not overhang the pallet.
Tim Ranson is Environment, Health and Safety manager at Finning (Canada) / The Cat Rental Store in Edmonton, Alta. He has worked in the rental industry for more than 20 years. Tim sat on the ARA Trade Show Committee and the ARA Risk Management Committee and helped start its Professional Driver Improvement Program. He was also a speaker/panelist over the past three years at the ARA Rental Show learning sessions.