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Posted by Stephanie on June 10, 2024

From forklift impact to improper loading, there are numerous actions that can cause your pallet racks to sustain damage. A pallet rack system is an essential component of any warehouse. You can use it to store goods and keep your items safe. Proper placement of pallet racks allows you to more efficiently use the space in your warehouse. Once you implement this system in your facility, you should be able to reduce clutter, minimize hazards, and streamline your workflow.

While pallet rack systems can offer stability for the goods you store in your warehouse, they are also prone to being damaged. If a pallet rack system is hit by a forklift, it could come crashing down, which would likely damage your goods and potentially injure your personnel. Consider adding durability to your racks with protectors. By protecting these systems, you’ll increase their longevity and improve safety in your warehouse.

End of Row Guards to protect racking

What are Pallet Rack Protectors?

Pallet racks are a significant investment for most warehouses. Depending on the size of your facility, you’ll likely need to spend thousands of dollars on pallet racks to accommodate all the inventory you intend to store. To safeguard your investment, consider purchasing pallet rack protectors. These items are designed to prevent incidental damage to pallet rack columns and posts.

Your pallet racks can be damaged when items are being loaded or unloaded. If you use forklifts or similar pieces of equipment, pallet rack damage is likely, which is why you should install protectors when possible. Some protectors are anchored directly into your flooring, which ensures stability upon impact. These items provide enhanced safety for your employees as well as your products. There are three primary types of pallet rack protectors, which include rack guards, end-of-aisle protectors, and column protectors.

Benefits of Using Pallet Rack Protectors

Installing rack protectors in your warehouse offers ample benefits. For example, you’ll be able to enhance warehouse safety once these protectors are installed. The purpose of protectors is to prevent your pallet racks from being damaged.

When pallet racks are struck by a forklift, there’s an increased risk that they will tip over. By increasing warehouse safety, your personnel should be happier with their work environment. A happier workplace often leads to higher productivity rates among the workforce.

Installing protectors onto your pallet racks should also reduce maintenance costs. When a pallet rack is damaged, you may need to spend hundreds of dollars to have it repaired. Rack protectors prevent damage, which should save you a substantial sum of money in the long run.

Since these items protect your rack systems from being damaged, they should also prolong their lifespan. While damage to pallet racks can often be repaired, it’s best to avoid this issue altogether if you want to protect your investment.

The main advantage of having rack protectors installed is that they should help minimize damage from forklifts and other machinery. Even if you employ skilled operators who know how to handle sophisticated machinery, it’s impossible to eliminate the risk of a collision or accident. Pallet rack protectors allow you to prepare for the unexpected.

Pallet Racking with End of Row Guards / Push Back Racking

Types of Pallet Rack Protectors

There are three pallet rack protector categories, which include everything from column protectors to rack guards.

Column Protectors

Column protectors are mainly designed to protect the lowermost portion of a rack’s upright post or frame. They provide an additional layer of security that should help you avoid rack damage and personnel injuries. Column protectors are available in multiple material options, including steel and plastic. Steel column protectors are highly durable and can last for many years if you properly maintain them. Plastic protectors are made from high-density polyethylene and are effective at preventing structural damage.

You can transform your warehouse by installing column protectors. Along with protecting your personnel, pallet racks, and items, column protectors can also prevent legal action in the event of an on-site injury. By installing column protectors, you can prove that you aren’t being negligent when it comes to the safety of your employees.

Column protectors are also sufficient for helping you meet safety guidelines and requirements in your facility. Keep in mind that column protectors have very few maintenance requirements. An occasional visual inspection should be enough to determine if the items are holding up well.

Most column protectors come with a floor-mounted design. If you select this design, the protectors must be bolted into the floor. These items should also be outfitted with wide footplates. You can expect column protectors to have 5/8″ diameter anchor holes, which means that you’ll need to purchase 1/2″ diameter anchors.

End-of-Aisle Protectors

End-of-aisle protectors are more suitable for harsh environments where forklifts and other machinery strike pallet racks regularly. If you want the best pallet rack protection that money can buy, consider end-of-aisle protectors. They can fit all types and sizes of pallet racks. Just like column protectors, they safeguard the bottom of the upright, which is where most forklift damage occurs.

Because of the unique design that end-of-aisle protectors have, they can prevent damage to the entire depth of the pallet rack’s frame. Install these protectors at intersecting aisles or where forklift traffic is highest. You can buy them in custom designs and lengths. They usually need to be installed with 3/4″ diameter anchors.

Rack Guards

A rack guard is another type of pallet rack protector that’s available in the form of safety netting or wire mesh guards. You can fit rack guards over your entire system to protect it from any angle of impact. They are most effective when used in narrow aisles because of their low-profile design. You can use them with the majority of upright frames.

If you choose wire mesh guards, the panels can be bolted to the back of the pallet rack uprights. These guards are easier to install than the other protectors. Along with preventing damage from forklifts, rack guards also stop items from falling. Flat steel stiffeners can be placed behind the mesh for additional durability. While safety netting doesn’t have the same stability as wire mesh guards, it can still protect your pallet racks.

Guard Rails and Bollards

While rack protectors provide a considerable amount of protection, there are some additional protective measures you should consider implementing, the primary of which include guardrails and bollards. These items are most effective when placed in a facility that has high vehicle traffic. You can place guardrails and bollards around:

While guardrails are often made from steel, bollards can be manufactured with high-density plastic as well.

Pallet Racking with End of Row Guards

Choosing the Right Pallet Rack Protectors

When you’re searching for the right pallet protectors to install in your warehouse, there are numerous factors to consider. For example, which type of protector is best for your warehouse layout? If you don’t have much space, it may be a good idea to select wire mesh rack guards. On the other hand, end-of-aisle protectors should be used in facilities that have a lot of free space.

Make sure you evaluate the types of equipment and machinery that you use in your warehouse. End-of-aisle protectors are designed to be used in facilities with heavy machinery use and ample traffic.

Before choosing rack protectors for your warehouse, perform a cost vs. benefit analysis. Column protectors and end-of-aisle protectors usually cost more than rack guards. Rack protector manufacturers often provide customer solutions to accommodate unique needs.

Installation and Maintenance

The installation process for rack protectors depends on the type you purchase. If you buy rack guards for your facility, you should receive all the tools you need with the product. For example, you may need mount clips, a wrench, and a combination of nuts and bolts. The installation process is easiest when two or more people are involved. To install the guards, follow these steps:

  • Attach the offset clips to your pallet racks at the desired positions. Every panel requires four clips.
  • Lift the rack guard before attaching clips to it.
  • Tighten all the nuts and bolts.
  • Install the flush mount clip in the marked position.

While rack guards come with a simple installation process, column protectors and end-of-aisle protectors need to be bolted directly to the floor, which is a more labor-intensive task.

Depending on how much vehicle traffic your warehouse receives, you’ll need to visually inspect the rack protectors for damage regularly. If they become damaged, replace them immediately. A dented or broken rack protector may no longer be effective. The main challenge associated with maintaining rack protectors is knowing when they need to be replaced. Damage isn’t always visible. Since pallet racks can support up to 2,500 pounds, all of your rack protectors must be in good condition.

Regulatory Compliance and Industry Standards

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintain strict safety regulations and standards that warehouses must follow. OSHA can perform inspections to ensure your company is maintaining a safe workplace.

The pallet rack standards that OSHA oversees are part of the guidelines for providing employees with a workplace that’s free of hazards. The relevant ANSI standard is Design, Testing, and Utilization of Industrial Steel Storage Racks, or ANSI MH16.1-2023. You can avoid receiving a costly citation from OSHA by:

  • Installing pallet rack protectors to prevent safety guards
  • Properly installing your pallet racks
  • Replacing racking immediately after it’s damaged
  • Only making modifications to pallet racking after they have been approved by the manufacturer
  • Adhering to load limits

Conclusion

Rack protectors can absorb the impact from any forklift or heavy machine in your warehouse. Without these protectors, a collision could cause the entire pallet rack system to collapse. When pallet racks give way, up to 10,000 pounds of products could come crashing down, which would damage your facility and injure the people who work there. Installing rack protectors is a cost-effective way to keep your personnel safe and reduce expensive workplace accidents. Investing in warehouse safety and efficiency often comes with a high ROI.

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With over 32 years of experience in material handling, QMH is committed to providing end-to-end solutions for companies with distribution, logistic and warehousing needs. From permit approval management to full-service execution from the ground up, QMH delivers unique solutions providing distinct value in record time.