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Coming Soon: New Storage Rack Regulations

Posted: November 13, 2017

Sponsored by: WorkSafeBC

On January 1, 2018, a new regulation will come into effect governing the installation, inspection, use and maintenance of steel storage racks. You’ll find these new regulations in Section 4.43.1 and Part 4: General Conditions of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.

Why are these amendments happening?

The new regulations ensure that employers have a clear understanding of the hazards and controls associated with this common workplace equipment, as well as their responsibility to ensure storage racks are properly designed, installed, used and maintained. This will help to prevent incidents, injuries, lost time and unforeseen expenses.

Many sections of the new regulations are not entirely new requirements, but were previously not specific to storage racks.

What are steel storage racks?

Steel storage racks, such as pallet and cantilever racks, are common equipment used in many workplaces such as warehouses, distribution centres, manufacturing plants and retail storage areas. They typically hold large quantities of materials and can pose inherent risks if they are not properly designed, installed, used, maintained and repaired.

Exemptions to the new regulation are steel storage racks under 8 feet in height where the materials are loaded or unloaded off the storage rack manually.  This section of the Regulation does not apply to shelving and display fixtures commonly used for retail purposes. 

What are the risks?

Moving materials on and off storage racks, either manually or using mobile equipment, puts workers at greater risk of injury due to slips, trips and falls; overexertion; and being struck by falling objects. Additionally, factors that can increase the risk of injury include:

  • Overloading                                                                                           
  • Poor maintenance (resulting in deterioration)
  • Unsafe loading practices

The racks themselves can then be a hazard if they become unstable or collapse.

What can I do to prepare for the changes?

See below for some initial steps you can take to prepare for the new regulations. 

Identify

As a first step, locate all storage racks in your workplace. Next, review the new regulations to see if they apply. Gather information about the storage racks you have identified, including:

  • The name of the manufacturer (if you don’t know manufacturer, look for any product identification on the racks like stickers or embossing)
  • Instructions or user manuals
  • Drawings or engineering specification that indicate the capacities of the racks
  • Previous inspection reports
  • Other relevant reports such as geotechnical reports, maintenance records, servicing or repair records

Inspect

If you haven’t inspected your storage racks recently, assess their condition to make sure none exhibit moderate to high risk conditions and that there is no immediate danger.

Examples of moderate to high risk conditions are:

  • Storage racks that are overloaded with signs of damage or corrosion or in disrepair
  • Repairs not approved by manufacturer or engineer
  • Missing or incompatible parts
  • Unsafe loading practices (e.g. overloaded, load overhang, loads not secured/wrapped properly, unstable loads)

Develop and implement safety programs and plans

Next, consider developing a risk based action plan including short, medium and long term goals. The priority should be racks that are in poor condition, frequently used, or those that carry hazardous products and heavy items.

Finally, develop and implement a rack inspection and maintenance program to keep racks safe and up to date.

For more information

Resources are available to help employers prepare for the changes.  For more information and to reference the OHS guideline, which explains the regulation in full detail, visit the storage rack page on worksafebc.com.


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