Warehouses can be great places to work as long as they are safe. The use of forklifts, other heavy machinery and the misuse of racking systems can lead to a rack collapse. Even the most skilled forklift drivers occasionally bump into the racks which can damage their structural integrity. However, the proper use of rack guards and basic warehouse safety, can greatly minimize the chance of a rack collapse.

It is difficult to determine the probability of a rack collapse because every warehouse is different and there are multiple variables involved in each incident such as the speed of the vehicle, the type of rack, what is on the rack and more. Having properly installed rack guards helps to significantly decrease the chance of rack failure and helps prevent a domino effect that could potentially bring down every rack in a warehouse.

Warehouse racks are carefully engineered structures capable of holding large loads and massive amounts of products. If one part of the rack gets damaged, the integrity of the entire structure could become compromised.

Racking systems can collapse for many reasons such as overloading the racks beyond the manufacturer’s specifications, lack of maintenance and the most common reason: forklift impact. About 90 percent of rack failure can be attributed to forklift impact, says MJ Thomas, marketing and public relations specialist, Sentry Protection Products, Lakewood, Ohio.

Forklifts are going to hit racks, it’s simply part of working in a warehouse. In fact, nearly 20,000 workers are injured in forklift accidents each year. To minimize the impact of forklift collision and decrease the chance of a rack collapse, distributors protect the vulnerable areas of the racks. This is where rack guards can make all of the difference.

Angelica Dudenhoefer of Angelica Communications, LLC, is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee.