Safe Pallet Racking Installation: 6 Things to Consider

Installing Pallet Rack under Permit is required throughout the Province of British Columbia.

Having founded Hi-Cube Storage Products 40 years ago, spending considerable time designing supplying and installing storage systems, I have witnessed the extensive changes in the requirements to install these systems.  The greatest changes have taken place in the last 10 years.  It is no wonder that long time users of these systems can get caught off guard by new rules and regulations.

The days of simply installing pallet racks in your warehouse are long gone.  Here are the most common mistakes and assumptions that I’ve seen get clients into trouble and can stop a pallet rack installation dead in its tracks.

1. Inadequate Sprinkler Systems

Not checking your sprinkler system against the commodity and the density is the most common and costly mistake we see, especially when moving into an older, existing facility.

The sprinkler system in the warehouse will have a significant factor on what types of commodities can be stored and how high you can store them. It is important to check with your insurance provider to determine how they classify the commodities that will be stored in the warehouse.  Then, we can check the sprinkler system to suit the density of product.

The type of sprinkler system your building is equipped with is only one of the factors that are looked at to determine sprinkler requirements when storing commodities at the higher heights.  An ESFR (Early Suppression Fast Response) sprinkler system can sometimes be a benefit, but there may still be a limit to the top storage height and requirements for in-rack sprinklers.

2. Permitting and Engineered Systems 

All pallet rack systems in the Province of British Columbia must be engineered and require a permit if they are over 8 feet in height. This requirement is as per the Building Code. The engineering of a pallet rack system includes, but is not limited to:

  • The structural design of the pallet rack under seismic forces, which vary from region to region;
  • Egress from the rack system;
  • The ability of the slab to withstand the seismic forces imposed by the loads in the rack;
  • The soil conditions under the slab; and
  • The sprinkler certification, mentioned in point #1.

3. “I can just move my rack over to the new location”

This is the largest error clients make after the sprinkler issue. There are many factors that we review when planning a pallet rack install.  Pallet rack that was installed in a present location does not mean you can move it to a new location and everything is guaranteed to pass seismic certification. Old pallet rack structures in new buildings can delay a project for a couple of reasons, systems that are engineered to old codes, or the site class on the old site is better than the new site. These are just a few examples, and any one of them that has not been reviewed and checked can stop a project.

4. Accurate product weights for the current design and future use

It is more common for clients to overestimate, rather than underestimate, the actual weight of pallets being stored in pallet rack.  Pallet rack systems in BC require seismic (earthquake) design. Knowing the exact weight results in a system perfectly built and priced right to do the job that needs to be done.

Pallet heights also have a significant factor in properly engineering a pallet rack system. The greater vertical distance between beams levels causes the frame capacity to be down rated.

Formal data with pallet weights, as well as pallet height, width and depth, are important metrics to know and consider to prevent over or under engineering your storage system. This data can be used in the preliminary design phase to allow for potential changes to be pre-engineered into the system.

Lastly, changes to engineered pallet rack system loads or beam elevations require you to provide the new information to your sales rep. or the engineer that certified your system to ensure it is still within the design guidelines of the certification.

5. Damage to rack systems

Re-using your existing pallet rack can be done as long as it passes engineering review.  The only requirement is that all material is like new, with no damage whatsoever.

This also applies to existing installations of pallet rack systems.  With the new legislation, Worksafe BC is requiring owners to keep their systems up-to-date with current design guidelines. Please use this link for assistance.  It is best to have an ongoing inspection process, remove damaged racking components, and replace damaged pieces with new ones as soon as possible

Rack damage can occur for various reasons. With the ever-increasing cost of warehouse space, many try to store as much product as possible in the warehouse.  This results in tighter aisles to help increase storage space which leads to forklift damage to uprights and lower beams.

A common area for damage is at the end of aisles or in tunnel bays. There are many protection systems that can help to prolong the life of pallet rack in these problem areas.  Column protectors can help prevent damage to the base of the upright columns commonly experienced with reach truck applications.

6. Using a qualified and experienced engineer

You should make sure that the engineer has a history with racking design and a working relationship with manufacturers and their colleagues in the industry.  Another item is to check that the engineer you are using is listed on the EGBC directory without any disciplinary actions against them. Click this link to check the EGBC directory for the engineer working on your project.


These 6 points should help to keep you safe and in line with currently legislation for your project.  If it all seems overwhelming, we encourage you to reach out to us for help.  We have the knowledge and experience to make your project move forward smoothly. Our job at Hi-Cube Storage Products is to keep you safe and compliant; we guide you and deal with all these factors and more ahead of you signing a lease or moving into your new space. Contact us today!