Common Causes of Damage to Industrial Racking and How to Prevent Them

When it comes to industrial racking, forklifts are often the first thing that comes to mind in terms of potential damage. Their size, speed, and maneuverability make them prone to collisions with racking elements, leading to shearing, twisting, bending, and deformations on pallet racks. However, rack damage is not limited to forklift impacts alone. This blog post will explore various factors that can lead to pallet rack issues and provide insights on how to prevent them.

  • Corrosion: Corrosion can be a silent but significant threat to the integrity of pallet racks. Rust gradually eats away at the steel components of the racking system, weakening it over time. This is especially problematic in environments with high moisture levels or outdoor exposure. Additionally, certain stored products, such as fertilizers or chemical salts, can accelerate the corrosion process when they come into contact with the racking.

Prevention: To mitigate the risk of corrosion, select racking components with appropriate surface treatments for the environment. Galvanized beams and uprights can resist the elements longer than simply painted components. Proper containment of chemicals and regular inspections can also help prevent corrosion-related damage.

  • Overloading: Overloading racks can have dire consequences, including buckling of uprights or permanent deformation of beams. Upright overloading can lead to sudden collapse, while beam overloading causes bending and reduced load capacity.

Prevention: Ensure that racks are designed with appropriate beam sizes based on the weight of stored goods and adhere to engineered drawings for load capacities. This prevents overloading and maintains rack stability.

  • Configuration Changes: Modifying the configuration of a racking system can affect its stability and load-carrying capacity. Changes such as removing low-level beams while keeping high-level ones can create unbraced vertical sections along the upright, making it susceptible to bending.

Prevention: Any configuration changes should be approved by the manufacturer or a certified engineer, and new load capacity documents should be obtained.

  • Improper Storage: Improper storage practices can increase the risk of damage or incidents. Avoid situations like pallet overhang, leaning loads against bracing, inadequate clearances, and improper storage on wire mesh or safety bars.

Prevention: Follow recommended guidelines to avoid these storage issues and ensure the safety and integrity of your racks.

  • Welded Modifications: Welding for in-house modifications or repairs can lead to unforeseen problems. Welding generates heat that affects steel properties, potentially weakening it. Paint residues can also impede the quality of welds if not removed properly.

Prevention: Welding should only be performed by certified welders and approved by engineers to maintain the original load capacity.

  • Improper Installation: Improper installation of racking systems can create long-term issues. Common problems include loose or missing anchors, leaning racks due to uneven floors, improper bracing, and missing safety pins or bolts.

Prevention: Ensure proper installation following manufacturer guidelines, including anchoring, shimming for uneven floors, correct bracing, and secure use of safety pins or bolts.

  • Encumbered Floor: A cluttered aisle with obstacles increases the likelihood of impacts from moving equipment like forklifts.

Prevention: Keep aisles clear of obstacles to provide operators with ample maneuvering space, reducing the potential for accidents.


While forklift impacts are a well-known cause of pallet rack damage, various other factors can contribute to issues over time. Corrosion, overloading, improper storage, welded modifications, specially improper installation, and cluttered aisles all pose risks to the longevity of your racking system. Regular assessments practices are essential to protect your merchandise, and your facility from incidents. If you’re unsure about the condition of your racking systems, consulting AIM Engineering can provide valuable guidance and solutions.

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