Shelving and storage standards

In recent audits, the epar team have been seeing instances of overloaded and/or damaged storage racking and shelving.

The Hazards:

  • They are repeatedly used without intervening maintenance or inspection, or are poorly maintained;
  • The structural strength is unknown;
  • Products and shelves or racks are stacked too high; or
  • Heavy weights and high stacking making rack unstable.

The Risks:

Serious injury or death due to:

  • structural collapse of the frame;
  • shearing of pallet base causing collapse; or
  • instability of load causing toppling.

A recent Court case has handed down its finding and penalty in relation to the death of a worker who died when a rusted storage rack collapsed.

This Court decision confirms that organisations must be vigilant when it comes to inspecting and detecting plant or fixtures that are exposed to corrosion. An employee of Broadspectrum (Australia) Pty Ltd (Broadspectrum) was gathering materials from a rack on a worksite that had been exposed to corrosion. This resulted in the rack collapsing and the employee suffering a fatal head injury.

Why it failed – The cause of the collapse was corrosion to the base support. The rack did not meet the specified Australian Standards mainly due to insufficient drainage holes, a failure to proactively proof from corrosion by painting or galvanising the rack and a failure to recognise and act on the corroded condition of the rack. It was found that Broadspectrum should have conducted a risk assessment of the rack and regularly inspected the rack. For this reason it was foreseeable that injury or death could result from the failure of the rack. There were readily available measures that would have removed the risk and this was supported by the corrective action taken by Broadspectrum directly after the incident. Broadspectrum was fined $240,000 and ordered to pay the prosecutor’s costs of $51,000.

Lessons from this case – This case demonstrates that extra care needs to be taken when conditions are present that may lead to significant safety risks to arise incrementally over a long period. Organisations need to ensure that fixtures and equipment undergo regular safety examinations to ensure that they do not pose a risk to health and safety.

Image Source – SafeWork NSW – Pallet racking guide

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