New steel pallet racking standards

Despite safety campaigns over previous decades, too many people leave for work in the morning and never return.

In 2009-10, 216 people lost their lives due to injuries sustained while working, and transport and storage (including warehousing) was one of the most dangerous workplaces. Furthermore, there were almost 9000 non-fatal injuries and muscuskeletal disorders in the transport and storage industry alone.

A new Australian Standard covers the design of steel storage racking systems, and incorporates several changes to operational requirements and end-user responsibility.

With the introduction of the AS4084:2012 in February this year, the supply chain industry is about to take a step in reducing industrial fatalities.

Dexion National Engineering Manager Peter Geoghegan said the new standard covers around 90 per cent of steel pallet racking being used in Australia.

“That includes adjustable static pallet racking, but not drive through, mobile or cantilever racking or racking made of materials other than steel,” he said.

Geoghegan said all racking manufacturers and end user customers of racking products have a duty of care to comply with AS4084:2012. 

He said the rigorous standard is because steel pallet racking presents unique challenges and dangers, and requires specific governance.

“For example, a 1000kg pallet on a typical pallet rack system has approximately 50 times the applied load per weight ratio compared to a high rise building floor system.

Geoghegan said businesses will be affected in a few areas with the new standard including storage density ratios reducing as the standard necessitates an increase in flue space between pallets and in vertical separation over six metres.

Secondly, the new standard has tiers of analysis that allows for more economic racking design.

Third, changes in statistical analysis of the testing data means it now uses standard deviations, not just averages.

The standard also has a more definitive repair procedure.

“This will help minimise confusion during maintenance and provide a safer workplace environment,” Geoghegan said.

Geoghegan said readers should ask for independent evidence of compliance from prospective racking manufacturers or suppliers.

He recommends document from an independent NATA laboratory or University. To ensure compliance of a racking manufacturer and structure design to the new standard ask the following questions:

  • Was the independent testing done by a reputable University or NATA accredited authority?
  • Which components were tested? What tests were conducted? All mandatory tests as specified in AS4084:2012?
  • Have the results of the tests been used to design structures to AS4600: Cold Formed Structure Code?

He said business owners should be aware of the changes to the maintenance of steel racking.

 “The standard requires inspections of racking structures to be carried out on a regular basis, at least once every twelve months, and should be carried out by the racking manufacturer or an appropriately trained person.”

He added owners should keep a record of the inspections and any corrective action. Damage to the structure must be recorded under a new green, amber and red light type coding system.

Earlier this year, Dexion announced the regional unveiling of the new Speedlock racking system.

The company’s CEO, Peter Farmakis, said the launch was the most significant development in Dexion’s industrial business since the introduction of the iconic Keylock range.

He said the new standard means the industry spotlight is very much on compliance in the interests of safety.

“The new standard incorporates an extended range of tests which accommodate advanced engineering techniques with regards to product testing not currently included in the EN 15512:2009 Standard (formerly FEM),” said Farmakis. 

In the months before the introduction of the standard, Dexion’s racking components were exhaustively tested by University of Technology, Sydney.