November 15, 2011
Any workplace with pallet racking is a potential target for inspectors during a month-long blitz, which began Nov. 1.

“If you have lift trucks and pallet racks,” says Don Brown, a provincial specialist with the Ministry of Labour’s Industrial Health and Safety Program, “we’ll be interested in having inspectors visit your workplace.”

Inspectors will focus on issues that can lead to worker injuries when working with or near racking systems. The most serious racking hazards involve a total or partial collapse of a rack, and loads falling from the rack or lift truck used to load or unload the rack.

During the blitz, ministry inspectors will pay particular attention to warehouses, distribution centres, retail operations, and manufacturing plants where pallet racks are commonplace. “If racking has the potential to collapse,” says Brown, “we want to make sure it’s rectified and properly maintained. Otherwise, it represents a significant hazard that could seriously injure or kill workers.”

Brown identified two likely inspection priorities. “Inspectors will be checking on whether employers are maintaining equipment in good condition, which is a requirement under section 25(1)(b) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. I think another important component will be the employer duty to provide information and instruction to workers (section 25(2)(a)). For example,” continues Brown, “where workers are loading racks and working around racks, it is important that they understand the loading specifications and understand and be trained on how and when to report racking damage. Safe operation of lift trucks is also important.”

 “If you don’t have the paperwork and drawings to show that a racking system was built and installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications,” says Leon, “you’ll need a Pre-Start Health and Safety Review conducted by an engineer. If you’ve modified a racking system, you’ll need an engineer’s report on the system.

“A lot of people don’t realize this. They think it’s a grandfathered thing: ‘The racks were here before I started so I must be exempt.’”

A racking structure installed prior to Oct. 7, 2000 is exempt from a Pre-Start Health and Safety Review unless it has been modified, he explains. Furthermore, if racking was installed in accordance with current applicable standards, then no PSR is required.  However, the employer should have documentation to support this.

For additional information on racking and storage, go to