Pallet racking law in Ireland can be something of a mystery. To better understand it, it’s good to know what exactly HSA does.
HSA Ireland isn’t as clear as HSE when it comes to the safe use of pallet racking in Ireland, though there is a reason for this. While HSE simply covers health and safety law, HSA covers a broader range of issues. By understanding what HSA does, it’s easier to understand why its stance on pallet racking in Ireland is so vague.
Ireland Doesn’t Have an NHS
Ireland’s Health Act 2004 means that every Irish citizen is able to receive at least some basic healthcare. This act, however, did not set up a system as comprehensive as the UK’s National Health Service. Instead, the public healthcare of Irish citizens is handled by HSA and this means that the HSA is a much broader governmental body than HSE. So, as well as tackling issues such as myth busting and law making, HSA also does many things that HSE does not do, such as building wind farms and employing over 227,000 healthcare workers.
Not having an NHS means that Ireland has a huge HSA instead. It’s much more authoritative than HSE but, because it covers the health of Irish citizens in such a broad way, it does have a few blind spots.
Pallet Racking Ireland: The Body Which Doesn’t Exist
HSE is focused on just one thing: creating laws and guidance for workplace safety. Over time, its scope has had to expand to include other issues. From around 2010 to 2015, exploding pavements were a serious public health risk in London. This unique public health scare left authorities confused as to whose responsibility it was to solve the problem. In the end, it was left to HSE and this has set a precedent where we imagine HSE to be a body which keeps us safe in public spaces, not just workplaces.
However, aside from that, HSE’s role has remained the same. In other words, it has remained specific. As a result, despite huge funding cuts, it is still able to provide in-depth guidance on things like preventing slips and trips at work, minimum and maximum workplace temperatures, and pallet racking safety.
That last aspect of safety is something of a blind spot for HSA Ireland. While HSE works with SEMA (the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association) to create laws and guidance on all aspects of pallet racking safety, there is no Irish equivalent. There is no “Pallet Racking Ireland” who helps HSA to create guidance and laws in the same way that SEMA helps HSE. As a result, many Irish storage equipment users and warehouse owners are left in the lurch trying to figure out the best practice for pallet racking safety in their country.
With no “Pallet Racking Ireland”, HSA’s advice on storage equipment safety is scarce at best, and towards the bottom of its page on the topic, it links outwards to Warehousing Ireland (a magazine which offers some advice) and HSE HSG76. This HSE guide mentions SEMA by name and recommends annual inspections from a SEMA approved racking inspector.
So should owners of pallet racking in Ireland follow this advice? Probably, but HSA doesn’t make it 100% clear that they should. One thing that is for certain is that having your warehouse inspected annually by an outside expert is an EU recommendation and that Ireland, as a member of the EU, should follow this advice.
Does HSA Need a “Pallet Racking Ireland”?
HSA needs to give out clearer advice on pallet racking safety, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs a “Pallet Racking Ireland” body just as HSE has SEMA. SEMA operates in countries all over the world (with SEMA approved racking inspectors working in Spain, Poland, China, Singapore, and the UAE). As a result, it’s perfectly reasonable for Irish storage equipment users to follow SEMA’s advice.
If HSA were to be more forthright, it could directly recommend SEMA services in the same way HSE does. As it stands, it doesn’t. However, it does recommend them indirectly by linking out to HSE HSG76, and having a SEMA approved racking inspection is also consistent with the EU’s advice. With HSA’s lack of input on the topic, this is likely the best advice to follow.