Plastic vs steel guards

We are often asked how plastic guards compare with traditional steel guards. So we have put together a table outlining the benefits of Protect-it™ rack guards.


Protect-it guards

Traditional steel guards


Injection moulded ultra high impact polyethylene (HDPE)

Fabricated steel

Protection from everyday knocks and bumps

Absorbs energy from everyday knocks and bumps using integrally moulded, curved energy absorbers which spring back to their original shape

Transfers energy from everyday knocks and bumps to the concrete floor, placing stress on floor anchors

Performance in severe impacts

Flexible crumple zones absorb energy from high impact collisions, reducing damage to rack uprights (read more about our testing here)

Rigid steel provides limited crumple capabilities, usually resulting in floor damage (where anchors have been pulled out) and serious damage to the rack upright (where the impact of the guard against the upright creates a ‘kink’)

Why use crumple zones?

Crumple zones are designed to absorb energy and reduce the forces generated during a collision. They also spread these forces over a large area on the rack upright. Protect-it rack guards work just like the bumpers on modern cars

Steel guards work like the rigid bumpers on old-fashioned cars. Without a crumple zone these guards create high impact forces that are transmitted to the floor and racking (following failure of the floor anchors)


Quick, easy installation with no extra fasteners

Time consuming installation requiring messy drilling and bolting to the floor


Easy modular replacement - only damaged guard modules need to be replaced

The entire guard needs to be replaced. Extra costs may be incurred for repairs to the floor and rack upright

Rack inspections

Protect-it guards are easy to unclip (or slide out of the way) to facilitate rack inspections

Steel guards cannot be easily removed and this makes rack inspections difficult

Inspecting racking systems

Steel pallet racking requires regular inspections to check for damage that may affect the structural integrity of the racking system. Protect-it™ rack guards feature a simple clip-on design that makes removal for rack inspections quick and easy - and this means less interruption to your work day!

Rack inspection requirements vary from region to region and will typically be defined in your local racking standard. Relevant standards might include:

  • Australia/New Zealand AS 4084-2012 Steel Storage Racking

  • Europe FEM 10.2.04 Guidelines for safe use of static steel racking and shelving, Users guide 

  • UK, Europe & Scandinavia EN 15635: 2008 Steel static storage systems – The application and maintenance of storage equipment

  • North America MH16.1: 2008 Specification for the Design, Testing and Utilization of Industrial Steel Storage Racks

  • Canada A344.1-05 User guide for steel storage racks

Why side impact protection is important

A significant proportion of all rack damage in warehouses occurs on the sides of rack uprights, close to the floor, where visibility is poor. That’s why it’s important to invest in rack protection that has passed both front and side impact tests. Protect-it™ pallet rack guards have been independently tested to ensure they meet international front and side impact standards.

To find out more about our testing visit our protect-it™ rack guard technical info page

Examples of side impact damage

Customer feedback

We love to receive feedback! Here’s a selection of comments from past customers…

Dexion Capetown - 2016

"Unfortunately most companies do not see the inherent danger that comes with any form of damage to their racking until it is too late. Regular inspections should be carried out and damaged sections locked out of the system until repaired -one of the services we offer. We (Dexion South Africa) endorse the "Protect it" brand of rack protectors"

Ron Bonthuys
Director, South Africa

Pepsico - 2011

"Our Dandenong distribution Centre is a busy, high volume environment that services the Victorian and Tasmanian market places. Over the years we'd experienced high levels of racking upright damage and were incurring rectification costs of $40,000 plus per year. The installation of the Protect-it guards has reduced the damage by over 50% and also provided great awareness for our reach truck operators. It has been a great safety and cost initiative."

Edwin  Lee
DC Manager, Victoria/Tas
The Smiths Snack Company (a subsidiary of Pepsico Australia & NZ)

Saferak Canada - 2008

"I recently gave 6 Protect-it rack protectors to our in house installation project manager and explained how to show them to the clients where he is installing racking. The first time he showed it, one of the workers said “it will never stand up”. “Look what we are doing to the crash guards mounted on the floor”the worker said. To prove his point, he put a Protect-it on a frame, disappeared for a minute and returned with a 15 pound sledge hammer. He wound up and let it swing. As he was swinging, the project manager thought, “I hope this does what Steve said it would do as the sledge hammer hit the Protect-it with full force. The sledge hammer bounced back almost right out of his hands. An hour later the client was ordering Protect-it’s. It just goes to show how easy they are to sell."

Steve Duncan
Safe Rack, Canada

Reece Pty Ltd - 2008

"I have been in the warehousing industry for over 15 years and have tried numerous “racking protectors” all of which the idea was ok but the design just wasn’t there. Instead of reducing the risk – They increased the risk! So when I was asked to view another racking protector, I must say I had my doubts! I would like to congratulate you and your company; finally we have a rack protector that actually works. The simple design, simple installation and it‘s economical. We trialed a number of the units for a period of 6 weeks and in that time the protector had proven its worth. We will be soon introducing these protectors to all our locations. I would be pleased to speak directly to any company considering using the “Protect-it” racking protectors, I have no hesitation in recommending their unmatched performance."

Mark Nisbet
National Warehouse and Distribution Manager
Reece Pty Ltd

Seeley International - 2006

"We have many forklifts which need to operate and manoeuvre in and around tight locations throughout our factory. The risk of impact with racking has been a real concern, as the consequences can be devastating. We installed “Protect-it” column protectors at critical locations around the factory four months ago and have been very pleased with their ease of fitment, and suitability for racking protection. The bright yellow colour is also an added benefit to highlight the location of the racking uprights. For me, they provide peace of mind that there is protection to reduce the risk of damage to racking, stored goods, and most importantly, our employees. With such a useful and functional safety device available, it is now simple, cheap and easy to limit the risk of damage to racking systems. I can highly recommend them"

Bill Halliday
Manufacturing Manager
Seeley International