When it comes to supporting mechanical equipment, vessels and valves, pipe racks come in the spotlight. Pipe racks generally act as a supporting structure for pipes, power cables, and instrument cables in various industries. 

They can be an integral part of the main system or they may serve as an arterial part connecting several parts of the main system. Pipe racks are usually structured in chemical industries and power plants.

Types of Pipe Racks

Pipe racks include many pipes for different purposes. Utility pipes are located in the middle of a one-level rack. For a two-level pipe rack, utility pipes are situated on the top level. Utility pipes carry steam, cooling water, fuel oil, and extinguishing water, depending on the industry they are positioned. The second type is the process pipes which carry the products for the chemical reaction itself. They are located outside the utility pipes or at the bottom, in case they are too heavy. Both of these types of pipes are covered by relief and flare pipes that fulfil the goal of safety in case of extra pressure bursting in the line.

Design Aspects of a Pipe Rack

Pipe racks can be designed into several shapes such as L, T, U, H & Z. The total width of the pipe rack should include an extra 25% space in case of expansion in the future. Pipe racks should be tested for different loads before being structured. Sustain load testing to determine whether they can support the weight of the equipment, Thermal load testing to determine if they are able to sustain thermal expansion or blows of internal pressure, Dynamic load testing, wind pressure testing, and earthquake testing should also be done in case of uncertain circumstances.

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Hazards Involved with Pipe Racks and Their Solutions

Fall hazards are very common in pipe racks. Safety equipment should be placed to ensure fall protection for pipe racks. There are several methods to keep pipe racks secure. Solutions include horizontal lifelines, work platforms, elevated walkways, guard rails, stair access systems, ladders with vertical lifelines, and crossover ladder platforms.


Steel pipe safety reduces the costs as a result of a damage that may occur in the future and helps you increase the health safety factor of the structure. Steel pipe safety railings are placed to ensure the safety of workers. Steel pipe safety railings are also installed on each side of the rack to protect against any mishap of fall hazards. These steel pipe safety railings are made according to the requirements of OSHA fall protection for pipe racks.

Related FAQs

What are some hazards associated with pipe racks?

The most common hazards associated with pipe racks are fall hazards. There’s always a chance of a worker falling from the top level of the rack causing severe damage to their health. Depending on the type of industry the racks are placed in, there could be other hazards of toxic fumes, flammable fluid leakage, pipe rack collapsing, and burning by hot gases leaking because of high pressure.


What is the purpose of the pipe rack?

Pipe racks are elevated steel structures used to provide support to the process pipes and utility pipes running through a plant.


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