There’s a good reason that steel is used for so many building projects, including pallet rack systems. First of all, iron, which forms the bulk of steel, is the second most abundant metal on (and in) the planet. And even though steel prices are rising dramatically, it has a very high cost/usefulness ratio; there’s simply nothing like it that’s so strong yet so abundant.

So as strong as steel is, we tend to forget that it can suffer damage. We often think that it’s plug-and-play, one-and-done, drop-it-and-forget-it. But as strong as steel is, it still suffers under the strain of warehouse operations. Here are some reasons you’ll want to get your industrial shelving and pallet racks professionally inspected to ensure they’re safe and up-to-code.

Why Do Industrial Storage Racks Need Maintenance?

As we were saying, it’s difficult for the human mind to understand how something as strong as steel can need any sort of repair. But there are three primary reasons that it might be time to replace specific portions of a pallet rack system:

Damage – The most common reason that industrial pallet racks require repair or replacement is due to damage. Warehouses can be busy places, and workers moving too quickly can run forklifts into industrial shelving units. And let’s admit it, sometimes forklift operators just aren’t as careful as they should be. Just because the entire pallet rack didn’t come tumbling down after it’s been hit doesn’t mean that there was no damage, though, and damage done today might not cause problems for months down the road. If you’ve had mishaps in the warehouse involving shelving and vehicles, make sure to get an inspection done soon.

Gravity – If you ever built model airplanes and hung them from the ceiling with fishing line, you’ve probably experienced how weight — even something as light as a plastic model kid — can cause the fishing line to cut into the plastic due to the constant downward pull of gravity. Something similar occurs with a heavy weight that is placed upon pallet racks. The constant downward pressure puts stress on the metal, causing even the strongest steel to bend as the bonds between its molecules are strained. You should bring in someone with the right eyes and testing equipment to see just how much the constant weight has affected the racks.

Outside Forces – Sometimes forces beyond our control can cause industrial shelving to need maintenance. Every state has hundreds of tiny earthquakes every year that are too weak for humans to feel, but which can cause shelving to move almost imperceptibly. Other times a building’s foundation might shift due to underground sinkholes (we’re looking at you, Missouri!) Other times a pallet rack might give way due to some freak weakness in the steel that was impossible to detect during installation.

Government Inspectors

Most people think that OSHA is primarily concerned with moving equipment and fall prevention. But they actually have a authority over just about every aspect of workplace safety. Any place an employee works is fair game, and if they see that the industrial pallet racks you’re using could cause a dangerous situation, you could be fined.

How can you prevent this? Simply have an independent inspector come in before OSHA stops by. They’ll be able to find any problems and help you address them before the government steps in.

Workers’ Safety

Of course, your workers’ safety should always be a primary concern. Storage racking that’s been weakened or damaged by forklifts can eventually give way, posing a huge problem if it should topple and hurt — or more likely kill — an employee. Put your workers’ safety at the forefront by bringing in someone who can look at your space with fresh eyes, someone who can prevent serious injury or death by inspecting the shelving units in your warehouse.

Avoid Lawsuits

Primarily, you don’t want your workers to get hurt because you’re a human being with feelings. But there’s another reason to keep your racks in good repair. We hate to sound heartless, but it’s important to be practical; you don’t want them to get hurt because you don’t want them to sue you. A single workplace injury due to a failing pallet rack system could cripple your business. It will be especially bad if you were warned about the problem by OSHA and failed to do anything about it.

Be sure to get knowledge about any problems with you storage racking before anything goes wrong. Contact RMH Equipment inspectors in order to avoid worker injuries and the subsequent lawsuits.

Avoid Lost inventory

If an industrial pallet rack has to collapse, hope that it collapses when no one is around. Luckily no one will be injured, but now you have two problems on your hands. First, you’ve lost the inventory that fell from great heights or was crushed underneath the weight of the pallet rack and any other inventory above it. Second, you’ve now got a bunch of twisted and broken industrial shelves on your hands, and it all has to be cleaned up before you can use that part of the warehouse again.

Instead of having a small, fixable problem identified by an industrial shelving unit inspector, too many warehouse managers allow that small problem to become a big (and catastrophic) problem. Don’t let that happen to you.

Don’t Forget The Other Equipment

Of course, industrial storage racks aren’t the only important tools in a warehouse. Our inspectors can take a look at just about anything that can cause a problem in a warehouse, whether it has moving parts or not. We can inspect material handling systems from top to bottom, including gear, belts, and drive motors. Any sort of conveyor system, from the simplest to the most complex, could use a fresh set of eyes to make sure that it remains safe and doesn’t break down at the most inopportune time. We’ll also talk with the employees who use this equipment so that we can discover the hidden problems that could be addressed even if they’ve found less-efficient workarounds.

Get Your Equipment Properly Inspected

Calling up an inspector can catch the problems you might miss as your warehouse workers go about their day to day business. After all, they’re busy folks and aren’t trained to look for the signs of problems in pallet rack shelving. We, however, are well trained and can find the problems that could cause it to fail.

Contact RMH Equipment and Engineering today to get your pallet rack system or material handling system looked at to ensure the highest level of employee safety and lowest amount of downtime possible.