An Upright Approach to Identifying Beam Damage | Apex Pallet Rack Safety Spotlight

Apex Pallet Rack Audit - Beam Safety Spotlight Video

There are many moving parts in a warehousing and distribution operation, but what happens when one of those moving parts unexpectedly interacts with one of your motionless parts… specifically, how should you address pallet rack beam damage? This Safety Spotlight takes an U-P-R-I-G-H-T approach to ensuring beam safety.

U – Understanding the Basics:

Apex Pallet Rack Training Video - ComponentsThe shelf beam connects to the upright columns to form a “shelf” on which to place the pallet. In order to create the “shelf” you must have a properly connected beam to both the front / rear column of the upright on both the right / left side of the bay.  Shelf beams can be manufactured in both structural and roll-formed steel and can come in many different lengths and capacity strengths. Take a look at our Rack Training Video for more pallet rack component and accessory details.

P – Pins, Clips & Connections:

Roll-formed and structural systems are uniquely designed and therefore have different upright to beam safety lock mechanisms. The structural beam is traditionally connected with 2 bolts per side, though certain proprietary designs allow for a single bolt per side. When inspecting for beam damage, check that the bolted connections are in place, tight and secure.

For roll-formed rack, teardrop frame (TDF) beams are designed to clip in or snap into the columns depending on the specific punching pattern of the column. There are several types of mechanisms that can be used to lock the beam to the column. Options include clip, snap or bolt and will vary based upon column punching. Safety locks can be dislodged and/or broken in fork truck vs rack interactions, so be sure to check that each beam to column connection is in place and undamaged.

 A combination system is designed with structural uprights and roll-formed beams. In these systems, the beam connects to the structural upright in much the same way it would for a fully roll-formed system; therefore, double check that all safety locks are properly secured and undamaged when inspecting the beam.

R – Rack Accessories:

Inspect any rack accessory that is attached to the beam to see if it has sustained any damage. Rack accessories can include: decking, carton or pallet flow rails, push-back carts, pallet supports, safety bars, dividers, etc. Repair or replace damaged components to ensure safe and effective operation.

I – Inspect: 

Visual Inspection should be a regular function but what are you looking for when you’re specifically inspecting your rack for beam damage.

  1. Check that beams are still fully engaged in the upright frame.
  2. Confirm that the beam is secured with safety locks and that the safety locks are in good shape.
  3. Inspect damage to the corner of the beam which compromises the integrity of the beam.
  4. Pay close attention to the beam level above the damage. Always check the upright behind the beam level above the damage… a low damage spot on a front upright could result in a pinched rear upright. Best to always check.
  5. Any beam with visible deformation or crack of the beam end connectors should be unloaded and replaced.
  6. Check to see if the load is properly positioned and that the flue space is clear
  7. Check to see if the beam is bowing under pressure. This is referred to as deflection and requires confirmation with a proper measuring tool, see beam deflection below.
  8. Check each rack accessory for collateral damage.

Apex Pallet Rack Audit - Beam Safety DiaG – Gap:

Pallets should be centered on the beam with proper clearances on the sides and above the pallet to allow for safe forklift extraction and to adhere to most fire safety codes. This is called flue space and generally it is required that 3” of horizontal and 6” of longitudinal space exist between the loads. If the inventory has shifted it must be extracted and replaced when the any rack damage has been repaired.

H- Horizontal:

Beam Load Deflection is a critical safety element with or without a rack strike. Deflection refers to the degree to which a structural or roll-formed beam is displaced under a load. The reference standard (per the RMI) for allowable beam deflection is as follows:

Length of beam/180 = allowable deflection 

E.g. 96″ beam/180 = .53” allowable deflection

To confirm load capacities for the racking system, check the load plaque. Strict adherence to the load plaque will help avoid deflection and overall warehouse safety. The load plaque is provided by the manufacturer or installer and will contain:

  1. The maximum permissible unit load (the combined weight of product and its storage container or pallet) and/or maximum uniformly distributed load (UDL) per level.
  2. The average unit load (calculated as the maximum total weight of product expected on all beam levels in any row, divided by the number of beam levels in that row), if applicable.
  3. The maximum total load per bay.
  4. Indication of storage levels that support stacking of multiple unit loads.

 T – Tools:

There are a few simple tools that you will need to conduct your beam safety assessment:

  • Tape measure/Laser
  • Load plaque
  • Writing tool or mobile device

This Safety Spotlight can be used as a helpful guide as you conduct a beam damage & safety examination; however, downloading the FREE Apex Mobile App will provide additional information and the ability to also record damage and rack specifications to simplify the process for any necessary repair and replacement parts ordering. Check out the Apex Rack Repair Mobile App.


Apex Rack Repair Mobile AppApex Rack Repair Mobile App provides Do It Yourself capability to conduct a complete pallet rack system audit. The app prompts you for key specs and photos as you identify system damage on columns, struts, baseplates, anchors, and beams. You can also take notes about wire decking, supports, load deflection, proper flue space, and more.

If all that sounds like something you’d prefer to Leave it to the PROs … Apex still has you covered. Apex PROs rack inspectors will come to you and handle your complete audit using the Rack Repair Mobile App.

Our Promise – Whether DIY with the app or a PRO audit you’ll receive a comprehensive rack inspection report with an independent solution recommending steps for system repairs and maintenance.

Safe, “healthy” rack is a key component in warehouse optimization. The Apex Rack Repair Mobile App is here to help. Download the app today, call us or visit our website for more information.