Whenever there are two or more products that serve a similar function, we want to know which one’s better. When the two products are both designed to increase safety, we become even more motivated. If you’re you’re looking for a pallet rack safety solution for your or your customer’s warehouse, it’s reasonable to want to know A) Which option is the most effective, and B) Which option is the most cost effective. But when it comes to comparing pallet rack safety netting and wire rack backing, there’s a better question to ask: “Which solution is better for this application?”

Asking whether safety netting or pallet rack backing is better is similar to asking whether pickup trucks or sedans are better. The answer depends on the individual application and the goals of the owner. For example, in a warehouse whose owners are highly budget-conscious and which is only storing light boxes, a light netting may be the perfect match. A warehouse storing heavy loads might opt for the sturdier, stronger metal backing. 

For those in the decision-making phase or who just want to learn more about two of the more popular rack safety options, we’ve outlined some of the key differences and similarities below.

Warehouse Safety Netting: Nothing but Net

warehouse safety netting










Once installed, both safety netting and pallet rack backing make warehouses safer without any effort from workers. This may seem obvious and irrelevant. A lot of equipment is meant to decrease accidents without help from people. But it is important because it means its usage rate will be 100%. Workers will be safer every day without needing to adopt new procedures or equipment. 

Safety Netting Applications

On to the products themselves. Safety netting has two main uses in a warehouse storage setting: fall protection for people, and fall protection for products. When used on a pallet rack system, safety netting is typically meant for product fall protection, which doubles as human fall protection for anyone walking underneath a falling object at the wrong moment. Safety netting is attached at the rear side of a pallet rack bay, and can either sit flush against the upright columns or offset, depending on how deep the pallet loads usually extend back. Netting made to snag runaway product may have a tighter mesh pattern than that intended for humans. 

Safety netting is flexible in that it can often be custom cut by the square foot, and can even used on elevated conveyor systems to keep product from falling to the warehouse floor. The netting may also be coated in a layer of fire retardant. Safety netting can be used for non-safety related applications, such as hanging dividers.

Safety netting isn’t just available in “traditional” netting form. It also comes in the shape of plastic netting. Plastic netting offers an inexpensive way to keep product from straying off beam levels, but its tensile strength is often lower than woven or metal backing. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of plastic netting before installing it. Since plastic netting may not come with an installation kit, the onus is on the installer to use heavy duty ties to secure the netting.

Down to the Wire: Pallet Rack Wire Mesh Guarding

pallet rack backing
If there’s one place in which it’s important to stop falling objects, it’s high traffic areas like tunnels.

Pallet rack backing is the stronger, more durable, and usually more expensive counterpart of safety netting. Like safety netting, metal rack backing is commonly used to keep product from cascading onto the floor or unsuspecting people. However, its rigidity and strength also make it useful as an enclosure for valuable equipment or inventory. Manufacturers like BeastWire also provide tamper-resistant hardware to add another layer of security to the enclosure.  

Advantages of Pallet Rack Backing

Because it’s made from high-strength metal, pallet rack safety backing needs little to no maintenance. If rack backing is properly installed, it should be able to do its job for long periods of time without oversight. Because of the strength and durability of wire mesh backing, there’s little need to worry about it being broken through during loading or torn by a heavy item.

pallet rack backing
Pallet rack backing panels can also be used for security enclosures. The BeastWire panels shown here can be outfitted with tamper-resistant hardware as an added security layer.

Pallet Rack Backing vs. Safety Netting for Pallet Rack Safety

The decision to install safety netting or pallet rack backing should be based on which product is more appropriate for the situation. In some scenarios, safety netting will be the clear choice. In others, steel will have the upper hand. It all depends on the goals and priorities of the end user, and on the conditions in which it’s going to be used. 

Even though there are pros and cons to weigh and information to consider, you don’t want to fall victim to paralysis by analysis. First, determine whether or not a pallet rack safety system is right for the application. Then, work with the end user to determine whether safety netting or pallet rack backing would be a better fit. Make an informed choice, and be sure to have the product installed by someone with installation experience. The end result will be a safer work space and an appreciative warehouse crew.