Safety Considerations of Vertical Storage Systems

By Protective Guarding Manufacturers’ Association (ProGMA)

Most material handling facilities use vertical storage systems to contain products. Vertically mounted, steel mesh containment panels are often used in these vertical storage systems within pallet racks to contain product and minimize the potential for falling items, which can strike personnel and other equipment on lower levels.

For instance, if a product falls from an upper level of the rack system, it may strike equipment, such as an ASRS system panel. Deflections in a panel can protrude into an aisle or flue that ultimately disrupts the application. If the product were to strike an employee, injury is likely to occur, causing lost workdays and productivity.

To address safety considerations of vertical storage system applications, a new standard, verified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in December 2019, was created by the Protective Guarding Manufacturers Association (ProGMA), an industry group of the MHI. The group’s Wire Partition Engineering Committee drafted the standard, with support from the broader ProGMA membership; the Committee includes executives from Folding Guard, Husky Rack & Wire, Jesco Industries, Inc., SpaceGuard Products Inc., Troax Inc. and WireCrafters, LLC.

Making Its Mark

The ProGMA Executive Committee approved the initiative to create an ANSI standard for the testing of steel mesh containment panels utilized with pallet racks. The thought process is with an established testing standard, the next step would be to create an industry mark in certifying panels that meet or exceed specific requirements. Working with your direct competitors can be a strange dynamic, but within this group, the focus was always on safety and promoting same within the industry. 

We are proud of the resultant ANSI MH31.1 standard, which is not only technical in how to test, but provides educational value for individuals outside of the industry that may find themselves responsible for orchestrating an initial or existing warehouse setup.

ANSI MH31.1-2019 “Steel Mesh Containment Panels Used in Pallet Rack and Vertical Storage System Applications: Performance and Testing Requirements” was designed to create a “guide for the designers, manufacturers, sellers, installers, owners, users and governing bodies of steel mesh containment panels used in pallet rack and vertical storage systems and applications.” ANSI MH3.1-2019 defines guidelines for design and structural requirements of the equipment and provides a uniform means testing the equipment.

Education Tool

“The new standard is a great tool to educate users about the proper use, design and testing of steel mesh containment panels used in material handling operations,” said Aaron Conway, ProGMA Chair and President of Mezzanine Safeti-Gates. “These standards will help users understand the benefits of using the containment panels to make their facilities safer for employees—and the equipment they use—throughout the day.”

Within the new standard are a variety of illustrations that highlight the impact that steel wire mesh containment panels can have on safety in specific applications and the overall facility. With standard testing methodology for this type of safety equipment, the industry has a guide that will result in consistent and replicable test results that can positively impact safety, overall.

Testing procedures and fixtures are outlined in the new standard. Dimensions for testing of the steel mesh containment panels are listed, with suggested measures for force and weights used in the procedure. The minimum informational reporting requirements are also provided.

The standards also outline the responsibility of the panel manufacturer; they must make information about the products available to the end-users and their agents at all times. This information includes recommended inspection procedures, specifications for replacement or repairable parts, and operating instructions.

The new ANSI standard can be purchased through the MHI online bookstore or ProGMA website at a cost of $50; members can purchase the standard for $25. WMHS

About MHI

The MHI is an international trade association that was founded in 1945, with members in the material handling and logistics industry. The Protective Guarding Manufacturers Association (ProGMA) is an industry group of the MHI that was founded in 2012 to help manufacturers that provide protective guarding solutions to educate the industry about how their solutions can protect workers and improve security while enhancing operations in their busy facilities. ProGMA member companies manufacture a variety of safety equipment used in material handling operations, including wire partitions, netting, bollards, guard rails, column protectors, safety gates and more. For more information on the standard or to find out more about the Protective Guarding Manufacturers Association (ProGMA) along with a complete list of members, please visit: http://www.mhi.org/progma