Improve your racking inspections with a new CSA guideline

Jun 13, 2017

rackingHigh profile fatalities and injuries involving collapsed racks due to damage happen all too often in Ontario. That's why a critical eye on racks is essential.

According to Chuck Leon, WSPS technical warehouse/material handling specialist, a new CSA guideline will help supervisors, joint health and safety committees, and maintenance staff become more adept at inspecting racking systems for damage. As chair of the CSA guideline steering committee, Chuck has first-hand knowledge of the tool's value.

Written in plain language and filled with photographs and pictograms, CSA A344-17 Guideline for Racking Systems provides greater detail on how to carry out inspections, what to look for, when to bring in an expert, and how to document and act on findings. "It's by far the best document out there," says Chuck.

What the guideline covers

CSA A344-17 replaces and expands on the now retired standard CSA A344.1, published in 2005. The guideline is a stand-alone document for use in conjunction with B335-15 - Safety standard for lift trucks and S16-14 - Design of steel structures, explains Chuck.

Significant changes from CSA A344.1 include the addition of:
  • illustrations and photos,
  • sample reporting forms,
  • provisions for fasteners and bolts,
  • links to requirements in building codes and OHS legislation.

The guideline also provides expanded detail on:
  • the use of racking systems,
  • modifications to racking systems,
  • the assessment of damage and deficiencies,
  • types of corrective actions.

How the guide can help you

Those responsible for racking inspections "have to understand how the rack structure works, and what's detrimental to them," says Chuck. The new guideline will help employees with this responsibility to
  • identify parts of the rack and recognize the types of damage that can occur. "Previously, you would have to figure out for yourself which parts were row end guards, bull nose protectors, or pallet safety bars, for example. Because of the change from a standard to a guideline, we can include photos and illustrations to explain what things are, and what damage may look like."
  • understand how damage occurs, and its impact. "Most damage is at the bottom five feet," explains Chuck. "Lift truck operators loading the rack may lose sight of the upright because the load is in front of them, and hit it. If damage occurs at the bottom of a fully loaded racking system, it could spell disaster in the form of a collapse. Anyone walking or working nearby could be at risk."
  • recognize the importance of reporting damage. "When racks become damaged, the potential for failure greatly increases," warns Chuck. Yet, in many workplaces, damage is not reported and therefore no corrective action is taken. Even rack collapses where no one is injured are going unreported. "The only time we hear about rack collapses is when someone is injured or killed," says Chuck.
  • understand how modifications can undermine the racking structure. "People think they can just arbitrarily go and take the bottom beam, for example, and move it up. This is a huge misconception," says Chuck. "Moving a beam affects the capacity of everything above it." The guideline explains when and how such modifications can be made.
  • do a more detailed inspection. "The section on inspection and maintenance has been greatly expanded," says Chuck. In addition to inspecting racks, users learn how to inspect pallet loads, with lots of visuals included. This section also talks about the responsibilities of the employer, rack inspection programs, and expert inspections of the upper rack structure.
Chuck recommends that every workplace with racking systems, big and small, purchase the 46-page CSA A344-17 guideline to help prevent collapses and injuries.

How we can help

  1. Our warehouse safety consultants can help you implement a rack inspection program and answer your questions about CSA A344-17 Guideline for Racking Systems.
  2. Sign up for Inspecting and Maintaining Steel Storage Racks (1 day), updated according to the new guideline. Onsite or classroom sessions available.
  3. NEW! Check out WSPS' Certification Part Two - Warehousing & Distribution (2 days).