OSHA Requirements to Secure Pallet Racks

Are There OSHA Standards for Securing Pallet Racks?

January 1, 2016 – Last month I asked readers for ideas we could discuss on the blog. And I was very pleased with the response. One follower submitted this commonly-asked question to be discussed . . .

QUESTION:  Where do I find the requirement to anchor pallet racking?

ANSWER:  You will not find that requirement specifically stated in the federal OSHA standards. About the closest thing you could cite from the OSHA regulations would be Subpart N – Material Handling and Storage, paragraph 1910.176(b) – which states that “materials shall not create a hazard”.  But that would be a stretch at best. 

There is, however, an appropriate reference document that could be (and often is) used by OSHA in conjunction with paragraph (5)(a)(1) of the OSH Act of 1970 (also known as the General Duty Clause) to cite employers for pallet racks and other types of industrial steel shelving (like pipe racks, bin storage racks, and parts shelves) that are not adequately secured from falling over. And that document is ANSI/RMI MH16.1 – Specification for the Design, Testing and Utilization of Industrial Steel Storage Racks. I found a copy of the October 2012 version of this ANSI standard on the website of a university at the following web address:   http://scholarsmine.mst.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=ccfss-rmi . Not sure how long this link will be available, so look quick if interested in seeing this version of the standard.

The ANSI document contains recommendations for securing storage racks of various types and heights to increase their stability and decrease the chance they will be accidentally pushed or pulled over. This is typically achieved by two means; first is to insert anchor bolts into the floor through holes in the base plates provided by the steel storage rack manufactures.  And second is to secure the racks to either the wall (if a single row is positioned along a wall) or to each other (if positioned back-to-back) to provide additional stability (see examples in the photos). 


OSHA regulations pallet rack anchors                OSHA regulations pallet rack secured


The exact means and methods to be used to secure shelves and racks are usually dictated by several factors, including but not limited to the height/base width ratio of the racks, whether or not the racks are loaded/unloaded with forklifts, and even if there is a potential for seismic activity in the area.

There are also methods discussed in the ANSI document for securing storage racks and shelves installed in different configurations, and for protecting them from damage caused by strikes from forklifts and other mobile equipment (a common problem I find during safety audits).  In addition, the recommended means and methods to secure storage racks are also typically included in the manufacturer’s information that accompanies the racks when purchased.

And if you do not think it is necessary to secure the storage racks, watch this video (CLICK HERE), and you might change your mind!

Do you typically see pallet racks and similar storage shelves properly secured, or are they typically unsecured? Have you ever experienced (or seen) the aftermath of a shelving collapse? If you would like to comment on this topic or would like to read comments submitted by others, please click here and fill in the “Comments” box. And last but not least, I would like to encourage you to Share this Blog post with others in your Network who might enjoy reading this information.


Curtis Chambers is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and holds a Master of Science degree in Occupational Safety and Health. He has held numerous leadership positions managing and evaluating health and safety programs and providing training on workplace safety and health topics at various public organizations and private corporations. Mr. Chambers is currently the President of OSHA Training Services Inc. Visit their website at www.oshatraining.com.  
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