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How Do I Know The Load Limits Of My Pallet Racking?

One of the most common and significant questions asked in regard to pallet racking is; what is my racking weight limit? The answer depends on a range of factors, but the answer can have such dramatic consequences that it’s important they are all considered effectively. Due to the bespoke nature of pallet racking design, the components of each system vary significantly and thus each load limit is unique to the system. A pallet racking system’s load limits are required to be displayed on load notices on the end of each pallet racking bay as per HSE guidance.

What are load notices:

Load notices are signs which tell end users how to use and maintain a pallet racking system safely and appropriately. They are vital and must be clearly displayed at the end of a racking run in order to reduce the risk of overloading the system. Overloading a pallet racking system can cause the uprights to buckle, and runs the risk of the entire racking structure becoming compromised and collapsing. This is a catastrophic consequence and risks the lives of your employees, as well as huge monetary losses. Load signs are an important safety feature, so it is important to calculate them properly.

The HSE, in set out in the HSG76: Warehousing and Storage: A Guide to Health and Safety, set out the fact that all racking systems require load notices, while the HSE is not a legal document, following its guidance will ensure you are compliant with all applicable legislation., An EU Directive combined with HSE law and SEMA influence means that load notices legally need to look a certain way. In other words, all load notices need to be SEMA style load notices. If your racking system doesn’t have a load notice, you are running counter to HSE’s advice.

Any damage to pallet racking will impact its load bearing capabilities and thus should be inspected and repaired or replaced, and its load limits reevaluated as soon as possible.

An expert SEMA Approved Racking Inspector will be able to determine the load limit of your pallet racking, and provide you with a load notice, but there’s a few things they need to be aware of first. If you’re unsure on any of these details, you should always contact the supplier or manufacturer to obtain them accurately.

  1. What is the bay clear entry?

This is the distance between the insides of each upright. It must be measured across the front face of the rack, and provide its width, not depth.

  1. What is the racking beam section?

Is it an open beam or a box beam? A box beam is heavier duty, so will allow for a higher load rating.

  1. Do you know the beam depth?

To measure this, measure across the top of the beam for the distance in mm. Typically, this would be 40 or 50mm but it can vary.

  1. Do you know the beam face depth?

This is another important dimension as the depth of the beam face can vary between 80 and 150mm. The deeper the beam face, the heavier duty the beam, and thus the higher the load rating.

  1. How big are the racking frames?

You also need to know the general dimensions - height x width - of your racking frames.

  1. What is the vertical beam pitch of your racking system?

The vertical beam pitch is the height of each storage level, and is measured from the floor to the top side of each beam. Beams can only be located at the intervals of the beam pitch. If the number of beam levels varies across your racking system, then the load criteria will also vary.

  1. What are your frame sections or upright duties?

The frame section indicates the duty of the upright. Different upright duties offer different strengths, so it is essential to know what weight your uprights can bear before loading other elements of the racking. The duty is often stamped onto the steel going up the upright with H for heavy, M for medium, or S for standard. This makes it easy to identify.

  1. What is your warehouse flooring?

The floor of your warehouse can have a large impact on your pallet rack system's weight bearing capacity, as it must not be more than your warehouse floor can bear. In order to work this out, you may need to undergo concrete core testing.

Calculating the capacity of your pallet rack frame and pallet rack beam will provide you with an overall idea of the capacity that your racking solution will need to be able to bear.

To calculate the capacity of beams you should have an idea about how much will be stored on each beam. The beam capacity = maximum pallet weight x number of pallets per level.

To calculate the capacity of a pallet rack frame you need the measurements described above.

Knowing the load limits of your pallet racking is a complicated process, but one that is integral to the safety and operation of your warehouse. Here at DC Space and Storage Solutions we are SEMA approved as both a distributor and installer company. This means we’re uniquely positioned to offer you advice and best practice information about the safety of your warehouse. We offer a rack safety awareness training program which can further teach you the significance of properly understanding pallet racking loads, as well as training you to conduct interim inspections. Get in touch today to ensure the safety of your business and warehouse. Call 01392 927 096 or email

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