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Posted by Stephanie on May 6, 2024

Installing the right pallet racking system in your warehouse can boost efficiency and productivity. It can also help reduce worker injuries and keep your personnel safe as they load and unload cargo. However, even the best pallet racking system in the world will only perform well if properly installed. Poorly installed racking is dangerous to your employees and the items stored in your facility. 

Proper warehouse racking installation can be relatively easy. In this guide, you’ll learn how to install warehouse racking in a manner that complies with OSHA requirements. These requirements are designed to ensure everyone within your facility is safe. Since OSHA guidelines were first implemented, warehouse injuries have dropped considerably. Adhere to the following steps to install your warehouse racking properly.

Pallet Racking with Row Spacers and Column Guards

Pre-Installation Preparation

It would be best to do some things before installing the racking. The primary one involves training your crew and ensuring they understand proper safety procedures. Before you start the installation process, taking this step helps create a safe working environment for everyone involved. 

Make sure you inspect all rack materials as well. Compare them directly with the project documentation to ensure you have all the necessary materials. If you detect any shortages that don’t match the bill of lading, contact the shipper immediately. You should also assess the materials to determine if they’re damaged. Rack materials must be in perfect condition to avoid parts not lining up or the entire unit falling apart.

If the site contact person or warehouse owner is available, verify the location of all racks with this individual. Keep in mind that different racks come with varying installation requirements. If you’re installing racks onto a concrete floor, the slab will need to support the load from each column after all racks have been fully loaded. You’ll need a slab around six inches thick for standard pallet racks. Make sure the floor is level. 

Before you begin the installation process, inspect the area to verify the locations of the building columns. You’ll be tasked with looking for any obstructions that might cause issues during the installation, which include everything from electrical panels and piping to lights and ducts. Flag any obstruction with tape. If piping or electrical panels are in the way, you may need to remove or avoid them.

Pallet Racking

Installation Process

The installation process for warehouse racking can be separated into around a dozen steps. By closely following these guidelines, you should be able to avoid lengthy delays.

Establishing Starting Line and Layout

Find a starting line for the racking before creating chalk lines showing the floor layout. The aisle widths must adhere to OSHA guidelines. Down-aisle chalk lines must be placed along the front face of each rack column from the start line.

Erecting the First Rack Bay (Starter Bay)

You can now put up the first rack bay. During this time, it’s essential to verify that all beam elevations are accurate. Consider asking the site contact person to confirm this. Remember that the layout can be permanently changed depending on your preference. 

Achieving Plumb Installation

The starter bay must be plumbed along the cross-aisle and down-aisle directions to ensure the installation is completed without issue. To achieve this goal, you may be tasked with using shims, which are small items that allow racking to lay flat. Back-to-back rows shouldn’t be tilted toward each other using shims on the racks. Once you make sure the rack is upright, tighten the bolts. 

Proper installation of connectors (T-blocks, wedge locks, etc.)

Some warehouse racking systems have T-bolts or wedge locks that secure the racks. During installation, you need to know how many T-bolts each connector requires. Connectors with a tab for you to place in a lower connection hole may only require a single T-bolt. 

However, connectors can consist of anywhere from two to four T-bolt slots. If you don’t accurately estimate the number of T-bolts you need for the connectors, you might have a shortage halfway through the installation process, which could delay your project. 

Ensure you install the T-bolts with the head along the column’s interior. Insert the T-bolt head through the connector slot and the accompanying slot in the column. Then, turn the T-bolt 90 degrees clockwise. If the slot is horizontal, you’ll know the T-bolt head has been installed correctly. 

You can then tighten the Wiz nut to 90 ft-lb or more. If you’re using adjustable beam connectors, you might need to tighten the Wiz nut to 110 ft-lb or more. The rack assembly could collapse if you don’t pull the T-bolts correctly

Pallet Racking

When using structural double-channel columns, long bolts might cause the webs to deform when tightened to 90 ft-lb or torque. In this scenario, it’s best to loosen them to 60 ft-lb. You’ll also be tasked with correctly installing the wedge locks through the corner slots of the connectors and columns. Make sure the beams are seated. 

If you have teardrop-style racks, every connector pin must be placed in the column. Inspect the safety locks to ensure they’re working correctly.

Rack Anchoring

Rack anchoring is often necessary during warehouse racking installation. Consider using a single anchor bolt for every column. Each anchor should have a 0.5-inch diameter and provide 2.5 inches of nominal embedment under the floor. Nominal embedment refers to the amount of an anchor positioned below the floor before being tightened. Use two or more anchors for each column if your base plate has four holes. 

Following Manufacturer’s Instructions

Manufacturers can have their instructions on how to install anchor bolts. When placing anchor bolts on the floor, follow the instruction guide that you’ve received from the anchor bolt manufacturer. This guide should contain the appropriate torque values for each anchor. In most cases, anchor bolt torque is kept somewhat low. If you over-tighten one of these bolts, the holding device could fail, which means the anchor would be pulled out of the floor.

Recommended Anchor Types and Embedment

Ensure the anchor bolt’s length matches the necessary embedment when accounting for the baseplate thickness. As previously mentioned, the nominal embedment you see in the manufacturer’s guide refers to the depth of the anchor before it’s tightened. 

While the best course of action is to anchor your racking system, you could bypass this requirement if the racks have a height of less than eight feet and are used in areas with low seismic activity.

Installation of Remaining Bays

All additional frames must be plumbed in the cross-aisle and down-aisle directions when installing the remaining bays. You can set up an entire rack row before performing anchoring. The footplates for each bay should be anchored the same way as the starter bay. You could damage the rack if you try to pull it into an upright position after you’ve tightened the fasteners.

Back Connector Installation

Back connectors need to be installed loosely. It would be best to tighten them only after installing the whole rack row. Remember that the back-connector bolts’ torque is often around 90 ft-lb. Make sure you install the back connectors at a level close to the horizontal brace’s elevation. All additional ones should be uniformly spaced if you’re using three or more back connectors. 

Installing Column Protectors

Consider how the column protectors will be installed before you anchor the racks. While this isn’t the case with all styles, some column protectors need an anchor bolt. 

Installation of Shelf Accessories

After installing the beams and rack row frame, place any shelf accessories in the correct positions. These accessories include everything from wire decking to crossbars. If you’re using a non-waterfall wire deck, it must be Tek-screwed, ensuring it can’t fall and become wedged between the beams. Ensure you don’t step on the crossbars or wire decks during installation.

Pallet Racking

Compliance with OSHA Requirements

To understand “What are OSHA requirements for warehouse racking?”, you should first know what this administration represents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures healthy and safe working conditions for warehouse employees and other facilities. As mentioned before, OSHA guidelines were introduced to reduce the number of workplace injuries and hazards. Following OSHA standards for worker safety allows you to maintain employee health and boost productivity. The OSHA guidelines for warehouse racking include the following requirements:

  • Sufficient clearances must be allowed at doorways, loading docks, and aisles where mechanical handling equipment will be used.
  • Storage areas must be free from materials that might cause tripping or fire hazards.
  • Material storage shouldn’t create a hazard.

The Rack Manufacturers Institute, Inc. (RMI) supplies steel storage racks and maintains a Specification Guide that you can use during the installation process. Before installing pallet racks in your warehouse, you and your crew should read this guide. Remember that the purchaser of the racking system is responsible for adequately installing it and complying with all OSHA guidelines.

Conclusion

Heavy-duty warehouse racking allows you to organize and store items correctly in your facility. These systems can also make loading and unloading trucks easier for your personnel. You must correctly position and tighten the T-bolts to properly install these racks. The racks should also be anchored to the floor to keep warehouse hazards at bay. 

By following this installation guide, you can maintain your pallet racks’ safety and structural integrity. To ensure compliance with OSHA, the racking must be inspected periodically. Refer to OSHA guidelines and manufacturer specifications for a more comprehensive understanding of how to comply with industry standards and regulations.

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