How to prevent warehouse rack collapse disasters

After a video went viral where a negligent forklift driver caused and entire warehouse’s racking to collapse, Barpro Storage put together these nine tips to avoid similar disasters in a warehouse. 

The video clip, filmed inside an unnamed distribution warehouse, captured the driver as he made his way down an aisle between two tall pallet racks. Two workers stood at the foot of the aisle checking boxes as he slowly travelled between the shelves, but disaster struck as he reached them.

It is unclear where the clip, captured in July 2017, was filmed, which company uses the warehouse, or the condition of the driver after the accident. But it has left viewers wondering how on earth it could have happened, and whether the driver survived such a catastrophe. 

The driver veered his forklift to the left as he came to a stop, slightly nudging the racks of boxes with the top of the vehicle. Seconds later, the entire unit collapsed, covering the driver and his forklift with dozens of cardboard boxes.

A white product spilled from the packaging when it broke on impact, covering the floor of the warehouse. The forklift then appeared to be pushed to the other side of the aisle by force of the fall, causing the second pallet rack to fall in a similar way.

Check out the video for yourself. What a nightmare!

An entire warehouse’s racking collapsed after a forklift driver bumped 
into one of the racks.

Rack collapses have been divided by some into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ rack collapses. The video below qualifies as a ‘bad’ collapse. A ‘good’ collapse is where only one bay of racking comes down with pallets, but it doesn’t spread like the proverbial dominoes as it did in the video.

Nine ways to prevent your warehouse racking from collapse

  1. Buy your racking from a reputable supplier. As there are no enforceable rack standards in South Africa your choice of supplier becomes even more important.
  2. Make sure the racking is correctly installed. Again, make sure you or the rack supplier subcontracts to a reputable installer.
  3. Do not restrict access aisle widths. Narrow aisles may result in an additional run of racking and therefore more pallet spaces, but it will inevitably mean more rack damage from forklift / reach truck impacts, increasing the potential for a ‘bad’ collapse.
  4. If the access aisles in a racked warehouse are designed for a reach truck, under no circumstances allow a counterbalance forklift to put away a few pallets.
  5. Conduct weekly checks using a trained employee to identify, isolate and offload any racking that is damaged. Properly fix the damaged rack immediately. Barpro can supply rack testing tools at a nominal cost. At least once a year use a qualified rack inspector for an ‘external’ check.
  6. Make sure the pallets loaded into the racking are correctly sized and not overweight. There should be boards on each rack giving this information.
  7. Really train your forklift and reach truck drivers as they are the only thing between you and a ‘bad’ rack collapse. Don’t use trainers who are cheap. Go to town with eye, perception and reaction tests. Remember every driver will develop bad habits so use regular refresher courses to identify and eliminate them.
  8. Train your warehousing supervisory staff to pick up bad driving practices when they happen. If they are not picked up then eventually you will have a ‘bad’ collapse. This is critical in preventing rack collapses but isn’t done in South Africa.
  9. Always discipline drivers who drive badly.

Bonus tip: when you are walking around your warehouse specifically look for unreported rack damage. When you find it treat it with the seriousness it deserves.




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