Safety should always be a top priority in any workplace, especially when it comes to industries that rely on rack storage systems. Whether in a warehouse, distribution center, or manufacturing facility, the potential for falls from elevated heights is a significant concern. Implementing appropriate fall protection measures not only ensures the well-being of employees but also helps companies comply with safety regulations. In this article, we will explore some of the essential types of fall protection for rack storage systems.
Fall protection for warehouse rack is typically categorized into two main groups: Employees and Products. 1) Fall protection for Employees is defined as a safety harness, barrier, or similar physical structure designed to help prevent the fall of an employee who is working above the ground floor, such as operating and standup order picker forklift, or while working throughout the upper levels of an order picking catwalk system. Employee falls can lead to serious injury, OSHA violation, lawsuits and even death. 2) Fall protection for Products is defined as a physical device designed and installed to help prevent the fall of the pallet loads, products stored on the pallets, or cartons/boxes stored directly on the rack shelf. Situations where this may occur include improper operator activity, incorrect product placement, and during seismic events. Products that fall off the racks can damage items and can also create a serious employee safety hazard.
Multi-level rack catwalk systems generally require fall protection for both Employees and Products. This article primarily focuses on fall protection for products stored on the catwalks. Of course, a pack of socks falling has less severe implications than a 25-pound box of paper or a case of wine. If designed properly, back-to-back storage rack rows typically have less fall issues. The place where products may fall will most likely occur at the outer-most single storage rows, along the perimeters. Because the distance from the rack to the building concrete tilt-up walls is usually 6” minimum, and even 12” to 24” in high seismic areas, this is a common area where products, such as carton and boxes, may fall and get damaged or lost. Another possible hazard area is around the staircase when items are stored near or above the stairwell. A greater concern is when the rack row ends near an employee access walkway, a working/packaging area, or over standard office TI’s. The risk of products falling and causing a severe accident must be limited with the appropriate use of fall protection.
Several physical methods are available to prevent products from falling off your racks. Metal or nylon straps can be secured to the back of the rack uprights, run horizontally, and limit product movement. Netting can be attached to the rack with the use of brackets and cables and covers a larger area than straps. Wire partition panels provide maximum fall protection and are an economical solution to minimize occurrences.
The final rack row of this 3-level catwalk system ended directly at the shipping and receiving area. The employees spent numerous hours a day in this part of the warehouse and were responsible for managing incoming inventory and packaging outgoing orders. Products were stored on the racking directly above this zone, up to 30’ high, and fall protection was required to prevent boxes falling and causing a serious accident. Another issue was the warehouse lighting, sprinkler pipes, plumbing and roof joists created a variance in the overhead height clearances, and protection was also required for the products stored on the top beam level.
The bottom beam levels remained clear so employees could access the lower levels for packaging supplies, labeling equipment, and utilize workstations. The intermediate levels were protected with wire partition panels that were attached to the rack with offset brackets. The very top beam level used different panel heights to stagger around the overhead obstruction. The custom solution created a safe work environment. For other ideas on how to use Rack Back for Fall Protection, visit WireCrafters website.