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Second hand racking - is it safe?

Used pallet racking

As more companies look for ways in which they can make savings, it is time to think carefully about the potential pitfalls of purchasing and installing used racking systems. There is plenty of temptation for businesses to purchase used pallet racking when looking to increase their storage capacity on a budget, especially with what appears to be significant savings.

However whilst some second hand racking may appear good quality, it is virtually impossible to guarantee that it is fit for purpose without full knowledge of its life history, what it was designed to do in the original installation as well as the weight loadings and capacities.

Before purchasing used pallet racking it worth thinking about the following:

Can the seller PROVIDE:

  • Proof that the previous owners of the pallet racking for example carried out regular inspections,
  • That any necessary repairs and replaced damaged components to ensure the racking was kept in a safe condition.
  • The weight carrying capacity of the beams, frames and any shelves when they were new.

Can the seller CONFIRM:

  • That no components have been modified; such as beams cut and re-welded, or frames incorrectly braced, cut or joined by a previous user?
    We have seen racking installations with components from mixed manufacturers being used; whilst each component may be sound they are not designed to be used together and can have serious racking safety implications.
  • That the racking components have not been used or stored outside as it is possible water can find its way inside the box sections and cause rusting which would affect the load carrying capacity and structural integrity.

The pallet racking equipment may appear free from physical damage however it is extremely difficult to identify what level of hidden degradation has taken place. Damage can also be caused by overloading, fire damage, or if it is used in a corrosive environment.

Beware of the words "refurbished racking", this could mean that the rust has just been shot blasted and painted over, or that the damage has been removed and new or second hand components have been added to the original system.

Please also consider the availability of spares and ask for the name of the racking manufacturer and for confirmation it is still being made (a number of manufacturers changed their racking frame and beam designs over the last 10-15 years and the old is not compatible with the new). Should damage occur to your racking installation can you get spares readily or do you need to change the system again?

And finally the issue of "Load Notices" are a requirement under the Health and Safety guidelines and increasingly an insurance requirement.

It would be problematic for any reputable company to issue load notices for a used racking system unless they have full access to critical design information, product data, installation history and inspection reports.

ESE Projects do not normally supply or install second hand racking and certainly not unless its provenance can be proven.

So if you are considering second hand racking for your business we would urge that you balance short term cost savings against the lifetime value of new racking and the potential risks / consequences of installing secondhand racking.