Video: Danger in the Rack Aisles
Proper specification, operations and installation of racks can increase safety
Although this incident took place in a big-box warehouse store, it could have happened in any number of industrial warehouses across the country. The presence of order pickers, shoppers, or others in a rack aisle is a top safety concern, in particular, if the aisle on the other side of the rack row is being restocked. Most likely this accident was caused by a push from the opposite side of the racks.
In any case, a tragic accident was narrowly avoided by sheer luck.
If possible, these kinds of accidents should be guarded against items such as rack safety nets or wire mesh safety panels. This isn’t always possible, since lifts may need access to both sides of a rack aisle. Another idea for a restraining product in storage racks is rack safety straps, which help reduce falling item issues.
Remove pickers from aisles as much as possible
Another thing you can do is try to remove pickers from aisles where trucks are working the other side. If they are executing each-pick or carton-pick from lower bays, is it possible to move those to their own area of the warehouse, away from lift truck traffic?
Check your loads for stability
In the case of poorly constructed storage, it’s a matter of process. Inspect pallets before they go into the rack. Are they stacked for stability? Shrinkwrap or band them to shore them up. Don’t allow carton picks from those pallets if possible, as that can destabilize the load. If you must pick from them, bring them down, pick, re-balance, and restock them. That’s time-consuming compared to a quick carton pick, but given what almost happened in this video, and what could happen any day in any warehouse, it’s a small price to pay.
You can also clear both sides of a bay when either side is being loaded or unloaded by forklift. This helps you keep people safe even if there is a spill. Of course, training lift drivers to avoid these types of “push” accidents is mandatory, but you can’t count on training alone when there is this kind of danger to people in the next aisle.
Related: Pallet Rack Falling Item Protection
Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.