The Relationship Between Seismic Calculations and Pallet Racks

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Regardless of where a facility is located, it’s important to consider seismic design when it comes to the engineering, manufacturing, and installation process of a pallet rack system. Seismic calculations in your design decisions are critical for the safety of individuals working near a rack as these reduce the risk of the rack collapsing in an event of an earthquake.

Through the years, building codes have become stricter and safer. Along with this is the improvement of technologies used in storage systems. Errors should not be tolerated, and tolerances should be as tight as possible, especially areas where an active fault exists.

There are many solutions to pallet racking systems but all of them follow a strict seismic design plan. The same holds true when renovating and constructing facilities. It’s a must to consult your local building department for the latest information regarding your area’s code restrictions.

The Importance of Good Foundation

One important thing to consider is the ground where the facility is standing on. You should be aware where the fault lines are, but take note that earthquakes also occur in areas where there were previously unidentified faults, like the Northridge and Kobe earthquakes.

Soils in which mass failure can potentially occur can cause damages in areas far from the disaster. For example, in the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, there was massive ground failure near the fault line, but there were also recorded damages near San Francisco Bay, an area which is rather far from the fault line. However, the area between the two points acquired the least damages.

If you’re planning on building a facility and install pallet racks inside, now may be the perfect time to local professionals about the conditions of the soil, even if your area nowhere near the fault line.

It should be noted that the risks are even greater for smaller facilities with high-density storage systems installed inside them. It is for this reason why there’s a lot of effort put into laws involving storage systems in seismic zones.

These days, tall racks in small spaces are common. You can’t be too sure that your rack won’t collapse should an earthquake happen, so take into account the dangers it could cause your employees and your business in general.

Reasons Why a Pallet Rack Could Collapse

One of the restrictions laid out by OSHA is that all equipment, materials, and goods at work sites must be secured, stored, and stacked in a manner that they do not collapse, roll, move, or flow. Employees assigned in securing, storing, and stacking equipment, materials, and goods should have the proper training regarding the safe methods of such tasks.

Pallet racks are one of the most common storage racks used in warehouses as they are able to support heavy weights, but at the same, it could put workers in danger and may cause damage to other equipment in case the rack collapses. Therefore, pallet racks must be structurally sound.

Below are the common causes why a pallet rack system fails.

  • Poor design
  • Incorrect assembly and installation
  • Wrong materials used in handling equipment to load and unload goods in the rack
  • Operator error
  • Problems in the structure of the facilities, such as uneven floors, walls, and others

Seismic activity is not the only reason why a pallet rack system could fail, but building it with seismic calculations in mind can help prevent or lessen injuries and damages should an earthquake happen. With taller and heavier racking systems, there is a great need to engineer your storage systems carefully so it can withstand seismic activity.

It’s important to inspect fixtures, shelves, and racks regularly in order to detect defects and other damages as early as possible and prevent the system from failing completely or cause damage or injury. Workers and employees should also be trained accordingly and report for signs of damages in racks as soon as they spot them. When racks are maintained and cared for properly, safety is guaranteed.

Pallet Racks for High-Risk Areas

Pallet racks built with the right seismic calculations are constructed differently and commonly cost way more than regular types of racking. These racks can resist seismic pressure because of engineering and construction differences.

To ensure safety in the workplace, seek the help of a qualified professional to build your pallet rack with the right seismic calculations.

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