A recent alert from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has underscored the critical importance of warehouse racking safety after a distressing event where a young employee sustained severe injuries from collapsing welded mesh sheets.
Preliminary findings suggest the injured person was aiding in the transportation of 19 mesh sheets using a forklift, aimed at placing them onto storage racking, also known as stillage. During the final stages of this procedure, the worker, unfortunately, positioned himself behind the stillage just as it failed to support loads, resulting in grave internal injuries.
The incident has brought to light the necessity of implementing robust control measures for the storage of heavy items like welded mesh sheets. According to WHS regulations, those responsible must systematically address the risks by following the established hierarchy of control measures.
Key strategies for mitigating risk include:
- Avoiding the vertical stacking of sheets by positioning them flat and horizontally.
- Ensuring certified racks or frames designed to cradle and secure sheet materials for storage and transport.
- Choosing transport frames and racks based on load requirements and designed attachment methods, whether freestanding or secured to other structures.
- Carefully selecting trolleys considering the load weight and workplace terrain.
- Incorporating restraint points to maintain load stability during transport and storage.
- Opting for racking solutions designed to withstand the forces of unbalanced loads.
For those organisations utilising racking systems, warehouse racking safety is paramount and several key practices must be observed:
- Always utilise restraint equipment that complies with the appropriate load ratings.
- Set up and maintain racking systems in line with the manufacturer’s instructions and AS 4084.1:2023 – Steel racking systems and AS 4084.2:2023 Steel storage racking Operation and maintenance standards.
- Ensure the racking is appropriate for the size, shape, and weight of the stored items.
- Match the racking to the handling equipment and the load rating of the pallets used, including considering the forklift’s turning circle for aisle width.
- Seek approval from the original supplier for any racking modifications.
Regular inspections and maintenance are vital to identify any wear, corrosion, or damage and to review any changes in processes that might affect the equipment. Racking systems should be checked frequently for signs of damage or overloading, with a thorough annual review of their structural integrity.
Involving manufacturers, employees, and other stakeholders is crucial for feedback on safety processes and equipment. Workers using trolleys and other equipment need proper training and supervision, with procedures developed in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
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