SEMA Racking Safety: 3 Things End Users of Racking Must Know

SEMA racking filled with pallets

To end users of storage equipment, racking safety can get very confusing, and the aim of SEMA racking safety is to clear that confusion up.

If you own a business with a storage system or warehouse of some kind, you’ve probably heard of SEMA or SEMA Racking Codes of Practice. You might also think that the acronyms and regulations which HSE and SEMA refer to when talking about racking safety are complicated and contradictory.

So, to simplify and summarise SEMA racking safety, here are the three things which you must know.

1. SEMA Knows More About Racking Safety Than HSE, HSA, or the EU

This seems like a strange thing to say. After all, HSE is the official public safety organisation of the UK government and HSA is the official public safety organisation of the Irish government. What’s more, the safety regulations of both the UK and Ireland should also be superseded by those of the EU.

The pecking order is obvious. Laws are made by the EU, the UK follows EU laws as an EU member (at least for now), and SEMA follows UK laws as a British organisation. While this is how it should work in theory, it’s not necessarily how it works in practice.

The reason for this is that organisations like HSE and the EU often defer to experts on specific topics, and racking safety is a very specific topic. As such, SEMA racking safety has become standard not just across the UK, but across the entire EU.

An example of this is the SEMA Load Notices Code 2004. It was used to develop EN 15635, a European Standard adopted by all EU countries. In turn, HSE’s HSG76 bears a lot of similarities with EN 15635, which makes sense, as the UK also adopts European Standards.

What’s more, HSG76 also refers to SEMA directly throughout the guide. HSG76 gives general advice, but it defers to SEMA on specific issues.

Taken together, all of this makes it clear why SEMA racking safety is the standard for racking safety across the UK and the EU. This would explain why there are SEMA approved racking inspectors working across the EU, as well as across the UK.

2. SEMA Racking Safety Is Internationally Respected

Because of the influence HSE has had — and continues to have — on the EU, it’s not surprising to discover that there are SEMA racking safety inspectors in Poland, Ireland, Finland and Spain. However, it might come as a surprise to some end users to discover that there are SEMA racking safety inspectors working in the UAE, Pakistan, China, and Singapore.

One possible reason for this is because of the way in which global standards organisations are connected. The European Standards Organisation — which is related to the EU but not necessarily a part of it — is the body which adopted the SEMA Load Notices Code 2004 to develop EN 15635.

Because of Europe’s importance for global trade, this EN standard would then have likely influenced other standards organisations across the world. It’s likely for this reason that Australia and Canada’s advice on rack safety is so similar to Europe’s and SEMA’s.

SEMA racking safety is a standard recognised across the world. In part, the European Standards Organisation’s influence helps with this, but it also speaks volumes for how timeless and universal SEMA’s advice on rack safety is.

3. SEMA Racking Safety Is Not The Law

Considering how influential SEMA racking safety has been across the world, it seems odd that SEMA Codes of Practice are not legally binding in the UK or anywhere. Yet, this is exactly the case — and it’s all to do with the onus of responsibility.

In short, it is not the job of the British government — or representatives of the British government — to regularly inspect warehouses for safety. HSE only tends to get involved in cases where a breach of safety will likely to lead to a fine. These are the sort of horror stories which make headlines, but it’s not how the bulk of warehouse safety inspection is carried out.

Rather, HSE defers to “expert” rack safety inspectors. It uses SEMA as an example of an expert body which qualifies expert inspectors, but it doesn’t insist that warehouse owners use SARIs. In HSE’s own words, they are “free to take other action”.

If safety standards were to slip in your warehouse and HSE were to inspect it, the first question asked would be: what have you done to ensure the safety of your employees and other people who have been in this warehouse? If you follow HSE’s advice by adopting the SEMA racking safety practices which HSE refers to, you will “normally be doing enough to comply with the law”.

If you took “other action”, the onus of the responsibility is on you, as the employer, to prove that this “other action” is enough. According to the CDM Regulations 2015, you will also need to prove that your workforce is “competent”. SEMA qualifications are the best way of doing this, but they are not the only way.

It’s for this reason that many people choose to follow SEMA racking safety anyway, even though they are “free to take other action”.

To book your annual SEMA racking safety inspection, contact Storage Equipment Experts today for a FREE consultation.

SEMA Racking Inspection Guidelines: How Often Should a SARI Visit?

A racking inspection being carried out following SEMA racking inspection guidelines

SEMA racking inspection guidelines are simple, but they are still not understood by everyone

Starting a new business is hard. To go from that initial rush of excitement on an idle Monday morning when your idea first struck you — and you scribbled it on the nearest scrap of paper you could find — to a venture which actually creates enough profit for you to live comfortably is a long and difficult journey.

As such, it’s hardly surprising that not every business person knows the ins and outs of every guideline they need to follow. Along with everything else a first-time entrepreneur needs to learn, SEMA racking inspection guidelines can sometimes take a back seat. They shouldn’t, of course, because following them is the best way of making sure that you are following the law.

Inspections from SARIs (SEMA approved racking inspectors) are recommended by both SEMA racking inspection guidelines and HSE’s HSG76. SARIs are expert rack safety inspectors with a background in engineering, who have attended SEMA’s intensive SEMA approved inspectors qualification course. SARIs also need to attend regular top-up seminars and courses to make sure that their knowledge is cutting edge.

Because the demands of being a SARI are so high, there are only 100 of them working in the UK as of March 2018. The high standard of the SEMA-approved inspector’s course and the SARIs it produces is why both SEMA and HSE recommend inspections from them.

But, how often do these inspections need to be?

How Often Should a SARI Visit According to SEMA Racking Inspection Guidelines?

At least once every 12 months. There are other factors which will mean you will need more regular inspections, but SEMA racking inspection guidelines require that you have an inspection from a SARI at least once every 12 months.

Side Note: SEMA Racking Inspection Guidelines Are Not the Law

SEMA racking inspection guidelines often come in the form of Codes of Practice. While these have helped to inspire HSE regulations, EU Standards and some pieces of UK legislation, they are not the law in and of themselves.

Rather, in HSG76, HSE often refers to SEMA racking inspection guidelines as examples of best practice. So, while SEMA racking inspection guidelines have the official backing of the UK government, that’s not the same as the law. In HSE’s own words, people are “free to take other action”. SEMA racking inspection guidelines are the best way of doing things, but they are not the only way.

A key example of this is with how often a SARI should visit. HSE recommends an “expert” inspection once every 12 months and it says that SARIs are expert inspectors. However, you are “free to take other action”.

Should a SARI Visit More Than Once Every 12 Months?

According to both SEMA racking inspection guidelines and HSE guidelines, there are instances when a SARI should visit more than once in a 12-month period. According to the Provision and Use of Working Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998, if work equipment has been damaged, moved, recently installed, recently reinstalled, or if anything has happened to it which might affect its performance, it needs to be inspected.

Racking systems count as work equipment. So, in order to follow PUWER 1998 and SEMA racking inspection guidelines, you should book an immediate inspection from a SARI if your racking has been damaged, moved, recently installed, recently reinstalled, or if anything has happened to it which might affect its performance. If in doubt, the best thing to do is to talk to a SARI to see if you should book an inspection.

To talk the SARI at Storage Equipment Experts, contact us today. We offer a FREE consultation and can tell you in a matter of minutes whether or not your racking system needs a SEMA-approved racking inspection.

Where to Find a Storage Rack Safety Inspection Checklist

Storage rack safety inspection checklist

If you’re looking for a storage rack safety inspection checklist, look no further

A storage rack safety inspection checklist is a great way to help you or your staff members perform the regular rack inspections which HSE and SEMA recommend. You can download a FREE storage rack safety inspection checklist from Storage Equipment Experts right here:

If you’re wondering what you might need a storage rack inspection checklist for and how to use it, here’s how it works.

Storage Rack Safety Inspection Checklists Should Only Be Used by People Who Have Received Rack Safety Inspection Training

Checklists are a great way of helping people to make sure that their inspections are thorough and accurate, but they need to be used in conjunction with rack safety inspection training. We do not recommend that untrained people use our rack safety inspection checklist to perform inspections.

The reason for this is that untrained staff members will not know what to look for on the checklist. The checklist makes what needs to be inspected clear and easy to understand, but this is only the case if the person using the checklist is trained. Without the training, people won’t know what to look for. This is why workplace training is so important.

What Does a Storage Rack Safety Inspection Checklist Include?

The storage rack safety inspection checklists we provide contain a list of the different parts of a racking system in a graph. This allows you to record if and when each part was inspected and whether any further action was needed after inspection of that part. The checklist mirrors the traffic light system outlined in HSE’s HSG76.

Green means that the part is perfectly fine and no further action is needed at this time.

Amber means that the part is faulty or damaged in some way and this means that the system needs to be offloaded as soon as possible within the next four weeks so that a repair can be performed.

Red means that the part is faulty or damaged to such a degree that the system needs to be immediately offloaded and repaired.

Even a Properly Used Storage Rack Safety Inspection Checklist is not Enough on its Own

As well as regular inspections from trained staff using a rack safety inspection checklist with the traffic light system recommended by HSE’s HSG76, a storage system needs an inspection from a SEMA approved racking inspector (SARI) at least once every 12 months. If you do this, you will be following HSE’s advice on rack safety inspection to the letter and will “usually be doing enough to comply with the law”.

What’s more, according to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998, there are instances where you may need further inspections — such as when your storage equipment has been moved or damaged.

HSE and SEMA’s attitude to rack safety inspections can seem overwhelming. Inspections are recommended by both experts and staff members and both the frequency and the thoroughness of these inspections needs to be guaranteed by several different checks and balances.

Yet, all of this is done in the name of safety — and it’s working. Since HSE’s inception in 1974, workplace fatalities have fallen by 85% and workplace injuries have fallen by 79%. This sort of success should not be overlooked, especially when people complain of an overreaching health and safety culture.

More needs to be done to reduce workplace fatalities further, and it starts by maintaining the standards we already have through using things like storage rack safety inspection checklists.

To make sure that your staff receives the rack safety inspection training they need to properly use our storage rack safety inspection checklists, contact SEE today for a FREE consultation on your next rack inspection training session.

Is Racking Inspection Legislation Different Across the EU?

EU racking inspection legislation

The EU is made up of some common laws, but not every country follows the exact same laws. So, how does racking inspection legislation factor into this?

When the UK leaves in the EU in 2019, it will be free to change racking inspection legislation without the EU’s influence. However, that assumes that the EU has already influenced racking inspection legislation in the UK. It has, but it’s hard to say exactly how much it has.

When people imagine how the EU works, they imagine a top-down approach. The EU tells the governments of EU member states what to do and those member states tell organisations within their countries what to do. In practice, this is not what happens. Or, rather, it’s not always what happens.

In the case of racking inspection legislation, one of the most influential European Standards across the EU — EN 15635 — was based on SEMA Load Notices Code of Practice 2004. So, rather than the EU telling SEMA what to do, SEMA told the EU what to do…

…But not quite.

Racking Inspection Legislation in the EU: Laws, Standards, Directives, and More

One of the many reasons that people who voted to leave the EU chose to do so was because of the idea that EU is responsible for such a large percentage of British laws. However, depending on who you asked, this percentage varied wildly. How exactly such a seemingly simple question can vary so wildly is down to the way the EU works.

EU guidelines — for racking inspections and for everything else — come in many different forms. As such, it’s hard to say what’s counts as an “EU law”. Some class all these guidelines as laws, and some just class some as laws. Not all of these guidelines are legally binding, but some are required for trade within the EU.

With regards to racking inspection legislation, the most influential EU guideline is EN 13565. This guideline is a European Standard, which is created and enforced by the European Standards Organisation. This organisation creates standards which EU member states must meet if they want to trade within the EU.

However, not every EU member state needs to follow every standard if they don’t want to. This is because a given standard might only affect an area of trade which that particular member state does not care about. As such, they might choose to ignore that standard. The European Standards Organisation is one of the many bodies which the UK may choose to remain part of in the instance of a so-called “soft Brexit” because it’s not technically part of the EU.

EN 13565 affects storage equipment, which is why it was based on SEMA’s Load Notices Code of Practice 2004. If an EU member state wants to make sure that it can trade with other EU member states, it probably needs to have a warehouse which meets European Standards. Businesses which don’t have warehouses will not need to meet this standard because it won’t apply to them.

So, Is Racking Inspection Legislation Different Across the EU?

Yes and no. Yes, all businesses with warehouses in European countries will need to follow EN 13565 in order to trade with each other. However, EN 13565 is quite vague. It’s a standard rather than legislation and different countries interpret this standard differently.

In the UK, EN 15635 led to the creation of BS EN 15635 and HSE HSG76. The first is a British standard and the second is a list of guidelines from HSE. The HSE guidelines refer to laws and define terms used in EN 13565. For example, EN 13565 recommends an inspection once every 12 months from an “expert” rack inspector. In HSE’s HSG76, it echoes this advice, but it gets specific by mentioning SEMA approved inspectors as an example of a SEMA approved inspector.

Though other member states don’t specify SEMA approved inspectors as an example of an expert, many SEMA approved inspectors operate across the EU anyway because of the similarity of racking inspection legislation across the EU due to EN 13565. After all, EN 13565 was inspired by SEMA anyway, so it makes sense that other EU countries would consider SEMA approved racking inspectors as experts.

Wherever you are in the EU, a SEMA approved racking inspector is exactly the sort of “expert” racking inspection you need at least once every 12 months. Storage Equipment Experts can perform racking inspections anywhere in the UK or Ireland, so contact us today for a FREE consultation.