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Racking and Storage Safety

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: October 2011
  • Content last reviewed: October 2011

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Workplaces with racking and storage facilities may contain potentially serious hazards. The improper use, selection and installation, or maintenance of racking and storage systems may put workers at risk of injury.

Throughout November 2011, the Ministry of Labour will focus on racking and storage facilities used by workers at industrial workplaces across Ontario. The stepped-up enforcement is part of the ministry's Safe At Work Ontario strategy, launched in June 2008.

Ministry of Labour inspectors will check whether the required precautions are being met by all who work in and around racking systems, as specified in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Regulations for Industrial Establishments (R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 851).

Compliance: priority areas

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

Installation and selection

Employers should determine whether they need to conduct a Pre-Start Health and Safety Review (PSR). [Reg. 851, section 7].

A PSR is not required when the employer has documentation showing that the rack has been designed and tested in accordance with the current applicable standards [Reg. 851, subsection 7(7)].

Condition, maintenance and repair

The OHSA requires the employer to ensure that the equipment it provides is maintained in good condition. Racks must be maintained in good condition by replacing/repairing damaged components of a racking system [OHSA, clause 25(1)(b)].

Use of racks

Employers must ensure lift trucks are being driven and products are being loaded and unloaded on pallet racks in a safe manner.

Employers must ensure that workers are provided with information, instruction and supervision to protect the health and safety of the worker [OHSA, clause 25(2)(a)].

Employers should consider providing worker training on:

  • manufacturers' loading recommendations
  • procedures to report racking damage
  • safe operation of mobile equipment in and around racking (i.e., forklift, pallet trucks)
  • regular daily inspection/observation of racks, and
  • any additional information relevant to their racking system

Other related issues

Employers should ensure:

  • aisles are free of obstructions
  • lighting is adequate
  • pallets are in good condition

Employers must also ensure that:

  • a floor used by any worker is free of obstructions and hazards [Reg. 851, subparagraphs 11(a)(i)(ii)]
  • artificial lighting is provided where natural lighting is inadequate to ensure the workers' safety [Reg. 851, section 21)]
  • equipment such as pallets are maintained in good condition [OHSA, clause 25(1)(b)]

More information:

Health & Safety Ontario

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services

Call toll-free

Call 1-877-202-0008 anytime to report workplace health and safety incidents. For general inquiries about workplace health and safety, call 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. In an emergency, always call 911 immediately.

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.