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New! Updated CSA guideline provides step by step process for effective rack inspections

Steel storage racks need to be inspected and maintained on a regular basis to prevent racking collapse and product falling. “Combined, there are potential catastrophic consequences, such as critical injuries and fatalities, financial penalties, and product losses,” says WSPS Warehouse Consultant Norm Kramer. “Racking collapses have occurred more often than people may realize.”

To prevent racking collapse, supervisors, joint health and safety committees (JHSC) and maintenance staff need to have a comprehensive understanding of the importance of each racking component, what damage looks like, what makes a load unstable and the capacity of the structure. 

One of the best tools to develop this understanding is CSA A344:24, User guide for steel storage racks, released in 2024. “Having a working knowledge of this guide is an integral part of becoming competent to complete racking inspections,” states Norm. 

In Ontario, inspections are required once a month, which includes storage racks; however, many companies choose to inspect more frequently due to the high volume of pallet movement and extensive mobile equipment traffic within their workplace. “A more in-depth inspection should also be carried out once a year,” says Norm. 

About the guide

Among other things, the CSA A344:24 guideline provides details on: 

  • the components of racking 
  • the use of racking 
  • modifications to racking  
  • the assessment of damage and deficiencies 
  • types of corrective actions you can take 

This is the third edition of the guide, replacing the previous edition published in 2017. “The CSA working group has enhanced this edition to make it more reader-friendly and easier to find pertinent information and answers to your questions,” explains Norm. “There are also updated photos and illustrations that are clearer and more accurate to provide a visual interpretation of the technical content.”

How the guide can help you

“Each component of a rack (in proper position) plays an essential role in enabling the rack to support the weight it was designed for,” explains Norm. “The overall strength of the rack depends on each component maintaining its original shape. Once you change the shape, you change the strength. Therefore, damaged or out of position components must be identified and corrected.”

Norm recommends that every workplace with racking systems, big and small, purchase the 56-page CSA A344:24 guideline to support safe use of steel storage racks.

The new guideline can help workplace parties to:

  • Identify parts of the rack and recognize the types of damage that can occur. “When inspecting racking, take your time to be thorough,” says Norm. “From row end protectors and cross aisle ties to diagonal and horizontal braces, each part contributes to the stability and strength of the entire rack. Damage to something even as small as a beam connector locking device may cause an entire beam to become dislodged, weakening the entire structure.” 
  • Understand how damage occurs, and its impact. Most damage occurs at the bottom five feet of the rack when it is inadvertently struck by lift trucks. For example, an operator turning into racking with an obstructed view or aisle space that is too narrow for the turning radius of the lift truck. Racking inspectors need to consider why damage occurs so they can address the root cause.  

    “The CSA guide teaches your employees how to measure damage with input from professionals, and stresses the importance of prompt and timely corrective action,” says Norm. 
  • Recognize why it’s important for workers to report racking damage and near misses. “Encouraging all workers to report damage and near misses allows the company to take corrective action before an injury occurs,” says Norm. “You have to create a comfortable workplace culture for them to do this. If employees think they will get disciplined as soon as they report an incident, they will be less likely to report. Thank those who come forward, and use it as a learning opportunity for other employees during a pre-shift meeting or safety talk.”
  • Understand how modifications can undermine the racking structure. “Changes to the rack structure can have strong safety implications,” says Norm. “For example, it is common to move the lower beam up from the recommended position to store bulky items; however, this may affect the capacity of the rack.” Part of the inspection process involves identifying and documenting any alterations to the original load application and rack configuration drawings (LARC) - if these exist, notes Norm. “Unnecessary modifications, when combined with damage, can considerably weaken the structure.” 

    There may be legitimate reasons for modifying racks, and the guideline explains how this can be completed safely without affecting the integrity of the entire pallet rack. 
  • Do a more detailed inspection once a year. “Whether this is carried out in-house or using outside experts, the goal is to look for hidden hazards that may not be visible during monthly inspections,” says Norm. “This may require moving some pallets or even inspecting at higher elevations. These more detailed inspections may also review the quality of monthly inspections performed by JHSC members.”

How we can help

Our warehouse safety consultants can help you develop and implement a rack inspection program and answer your questions about the CSA A344:24, User guide for steel storage racks. Connect with a consultant.


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