What Would “Brexit” Mean for SEMA?

SEMA Racking Inspection UK

Businesses, politicians, and voters are all wondering what “Brexit” (British exit from the EU) could mean.

for them, and SEMA are no different. At the SEMA meeting on 17th September 2015, members of SEMA’s team as well as SEMA approved racking inspectors, and people from all areas of the construction industry, came together to discuss what Brexit would mean for SEMA. There are many things to consider.

What Kind of Brexit are We Talking About?

To quote one observer, the EU is a reflection of how much “Europe loves asterisks that add exceptions to complicated agreements”. For this reason, it is very hard for to debate about whether Brexit would be good or bad without deciding on what relationship the UK would have with the EU after its exit.

To begin with, the UK is already an exception to some EU rules. Most notably, we are not part of the Schengen Zone or the Eurozone.

Nigel Farage has often campaigned for a Brexit that would leave us within the European Economic Area (EEA) but outside of the EU. Countries in this position include Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. Farage’s view is that this sort of position would be good for UK because it would mean a trade relationship with the EU but the ability to have more control over our own laws.

However, critics disagree and argue that it is not as simple as Farage believes. For a start, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland are all part of the Schengen Zone and so they have much less border control than Farage would like.

Added to that, all three countries still have to pay a membership fee. Then there are the problems of how the UK would look internationally without the EU and the economic concerns tied to that. For Brexit to look how Farage wants it to look, the UK would have to negotiate a deal that is wholly unique as well as address the issue of UK’s international position.

What Would Brexit Mean for the Racking Inspection and Warehousing Industry?

Some of those in favour of Brexit argue that in their dream scenario, the UK would still be able to trade with the EU but it would not have to obey EU laws. Most relevant to SEMA, it would not have to obey EU health and safety laws.

However, the likelihood of the EU agreeing to this relationship is debatable. Moreover, even if David Cameron is able to negotiate Brexit without alienating key trading partners, it could still be bad for business.

SEMA are currently the UK representative for the European Federation of Materials Handling (FEM) and a member of European Committee for Standardization (CEN). According to SEMA, CEN are “the official EU organization responsible for creating and maintaining European standards”.

Without the EU, it is unlikely that SEMA will continue to have this responsibility on the European stage. It is possible that this could weaken their influence.

Are We Having this Debate too Soon?

The problem with the EU debate is that the UK government has yet to finish outlining what  Brexit might look like. Many of the key issues are still up for debate and so there is much conjecture. Still, that hasn’t stopped influential business figures from making their position clear. Whatever the future of the EU, SEMA and the whole of the racking inspection industry will be sure to continue delivering the highest safety standards.

Whatever the future may hold, be sure that your warehouse is safe. Contact SEMA Racking Inspections to for a visit from the best SEMA approved racking inspector in the UK.

Cantilever Racking or Pallet Racking: What’s Best for My Business?

Cantilever Racking or Pallet Racking UK

Operations and logistics are a key part of any business plan, and so any budding entrepreneur who plans on owning a warehouse should take some time to think about the kind of storage solution they will want to use. Deciding between cantilever racking or pallet racking will have important implications for your business as the right choice will mean that your can store more product, more easily, and more safely. All of this, in turn, leads to higher profits and a better business.

Cantilever Racking

Cantilever racking is freestanding racking that gives your warehouse plenty of space and can be positioned in many different ways. The Cantilever racking can be stored back to back in whatever position best suits your warehouse or can be bolted to the floor against a wall. Their simplicity also means that they are easy to assemble. Moreover, the horizontal support arms are free from obstructive vertical or oblique braces means that cantilever racking is great for storing wide loads such as pipes, strips of metal, or planks of wood. Cantilever racking is accessible which will make regular inspections possible, whether it’s from within your company and from a SEMA approved racking inspector.

The Cons of Cantilever Racking

Cantilever racking can be expensive and requires a lot of planning. If your warehouse needs to store lots of wide items and you have limited floor space, then cantilever racking is a worthwhile investment. However, cantilever racking is inappropriate for the storage of pallets.

Pallet Racking

Pallet racking has the advantage of being a heavy duty system that bears a lot of weight. If your business requires the storage of bulky and weighty items, then this is the racking could be a solution for you. Much like cantilever racking, pallet racking is also accessible, making pallet racking inspections possible. Pallets are also design to work well with forklifts, and using a forklift in your business can be a great way to improve efficiency.

The type of racking system which best meets your needs will largely depend on the type of product that you need to store. Whatever racking system you choose, SEMA Racking Inspections can provide you with impartial advice on how best to maintain it and how to avoid damaging it.

Get in touch with SEMA Racking Inspections for a professional inspection of your pallet racking or cantilever racking system!

Top Tips for Warehouse Safety

Warehouse Safety

At SEMA Racking Inspections, we understand that safety in the warehouse is no accident. Rather, it is a culmination of factors, and something that requires people skills as well as logistical skills.

Racking inspections by SEMA Approved Inspectors

The first step in ensuring the safety of any warehouse is following HSE’s guidelines. HSE state that racking systems should be inspected by a “SEMA approved racking inspector” (a SARI) at least once a year. Some people experience “inspection anxiety” before these racking inspections. They fear that their safety standards will not match up to SARI’s safety standards. This feeling is not normal, and it should not be treated as such. If your warehouse is safe, and you have decent safety procedures in place, then a routine check from a SARI should not make you nervous. If you do feel nervous, use that anxiety as a driving force to better your safety procedures.

Racking Inspection Training

HSE also recommend that racking inspections are carried out in your warehouse on a regular basis by “technically competent” people within the business itself. The best way to do this is to make sure that you and your staff receive racking inspection training from a SEMA approved racking inspector.

Clear and Consistent Communication

A good warehouse is an intelligent system of signs, signals, and instructions. However, there is an important distinction to be made between intelligent and confusing. Some people feel that if they have lots of signs, lots of protocols, and lots of complex instructions, then that will keep their warehouse safe. Yet the truth is that the most intelligent communication system is actually the simplest. Of course, this does not mean that instructions and signs should leave out important details either. Rather, it means that instructions and signs should only include information that is relevant. It also means that the same protocols need to be echoed throughout the warehouse. Wording something slightly differently may feel innocent enough, but don’t risk it. Allow no space for interpretation and make sure that everybody gets the same message.

Aisles and Aisles of Floor Space

From the initial plans of your racking layout, to the

day-to-day usage of your warehouse, floor space is something that requires constant attention in your warehouse. At the planning stage, you need to make sure that the racking systems you chose can be accessed easily, for both storage and racking inspections, and that they are decently spaced. If forklifts are going to be driving through your warehouse, then your plan needs to account for that. In terms of day-to-day usage, your floorspace needs to be managed carefully, by forklifts and employees alike, to ensure that it remains unobstructed.

Make sure that your warehouse is as safe as possible with a racking inspection by a SEMA Approved inspector today!

Top 5 Reasons Why HSE Recommend Racking Inspections by SEMA Approved Inspectors

Racking Inspection

It is well known that HSE advises all warehouses have a racking inspection by a SEMA Approved inspector at least once a year, but why is this? There may be other health and safety organisation out there, but here are five reasons why SEMA is the number one when it comes to racking inspections.

1) SEMA’s Philosophy is About Safety Perfection

When Matt Grierson became the president of SEMA, he said that “the safety job’s not done until the industry becomes a zero-accident place to work”. This uncompromising attitude towards achieving the highest safety standards is the cornerstone of SEMA’s philosophy. However, SEMA don’t just talk about safety; they make it happen…

2) SEMA Deliver Results When it Comes to Safety

SEMA was founded in 1970, four years before the government introduced its Health and Safety at Work Act. Since then, HSE and SEMA have worked together to reduce deaths and injuries in the workplace. Between 1974 and 2014, fatal injuries in the British workplace fell by 87%. Between 1974 and 2012, non fatal injuries in the British workplace fell by 77%. Together, HSE and SEMA have helped to make racking systems, and the British workplace in general, much safer.

3) SEMA Have Developed Long Standing Relationships

The British safety industry’s faith in SEMA, when it comes to racking inspection or otherwise, may be why they are the only UK member of FEM (the European Federation of Materials Handling). From this, it is clear that both the British workforce and HSE trust SEMA with racking inspections and warehouse safety both at home and abroad. Added to this, SEMA are also affiliate with organisations like Dexion and the BMHF (the British Materials Handling Federation).

4) SEMA are Always on the Front Line of Racking Safety

SEMA are a big presence when it comes to safety. They take their message directly to the warehousing, distribution, and logistics industry with articles for Warehouse News on racking inspections and racking safety. SEMA are also keen to deliver seminars and training programs and this leads us to the fifth reason the HSE recommend racking inspections by SEMA approved inspectors…

5) SEMA Look to the Future of Racking Safety

In their June 2015 seminar, SEMA outlined their plans for the next 12 months: addressing the environment, developing their relationship with HSE, and creating digital versions of codes. Not long after that, SEMA ran a cantilever training course in July where they also talked about the future. And in November 2015, SEMA will hold their annual safety conference where they will, once again, make plans for the months and years ahead.

With their lengthy relationships with other prestigious British safety institutions, SEMA demonstrate a respect for racking safety’s past. Through their articles for leading safety publications, they demonstrate an understanding of racking safety’s present. And with their seminars and conferences, SEMA demonstrate bold plans for the future of racking safety. So it is no wonder that HSE recommend racking inspections by SEMA approved inspectors.

Contact SEMA Racking Inspections to ensure that your racking is inspection by the only SARI in the London area!

The Importance of Racking Inspection Training

Racking Inspection Training

Any business owner that uses a warehouse will benefit from racking inspection training.

Racking inspection training is a great way to ensure that your warehouse, and your staff, can operate at their full potential. Here are just a few reasons why.

Trained staff are independent staff

If your employees are trained in how to carry out racking inspections, then that is one less thing you have to worry about yourself. Of course, HSE still recommend a visit from a SEMA approved racking inspector at least once a year. However, racking inspection training means that you can let your staff deal with day-to-day racking safety issues without having to hold their hands.

Knowledge is Power

The expression “knowledge is power” is commonly attributed to Francis Bacon and, though he was not referring to racking inspection training when he says those words, the expression still applies. It’s true that profit margins, product desirability, and consumer behaviour are three of the most powerful pieces of knowledge that any business owner can have. However, knowing how to inspect your racking for faults also gives you power. Rather than standing idly by and waiting for somebody to tell you that your warehouse is in bad shape, racking inspection training means that you can take action early. Knowledge, in this case, is the power to reduce the negative impacts that badly maintained and uninspected racking can have on your business.

Communication and Understanding

Most arguments are root in misunderstanding, and this is especially true in business. A third party racking inspector might tell you a whole heap of things that, as a business owner, you don’t want to hear. If you don’t understanding racking safety, then it’s quite easy to simply wave their advice aside. In the long run, this is both dangerous and unprofitable. And all of this can avoided through the communication and understanding acquired by a company wide racking inspection training course.

Business writer Joseph Folkman notes that one of the biggest mistakes that managers make is thinking that telling staff a bunch of things is the same as communicating with them. If everybody is trained on racking safety, then talking about racking safety becomes more than just one person reeling off a list of rules. Rather, it becomes a genuine conversation between people who know the protocols, understand the situation, and can work towards a solution.

Increase communication, gain knowledge, and grant yourself and your staff more independence with SEMA Racking Inspections: the number one safety organisation for racking inspection training run by a SEMA approved racking inspector!

Racking Inspection Training at Hayden’s Bakery in Wiltshire

Racking Inspection Training

Last week we held a one day Racking Inspection Training course at the Hayden’s Bakery premises in Wiltshire. A total of 5 delegates joined the course which included forklift drivers, a warehouse manager and Health & Safety Manager.

We always recommend holding this type of course at your premises as this ensures that our instructors make the course content relevant to your warehouse and they can carry out a ‘mini’ racking inspection of the racking at your site which gives delegates practical information on how to complete their own future inspections.

Here is what Mr Martin Vellenoweth (the Health & Safety Manager at Hayden’s Bakery) had to say:

  • We found the Racking Inspection Training course met our requirements perfectly.
  • Overall it was very well receive, delivered at the right pace and had just the right content.
  • On completion the guys now have confidence, knowledge and competence to carry out thorough their own internal racking inspections.
  • Judgements can be made following SEMA guidelines/tolerances to ensure the integrity of the racking and the safety of the people without waiting for a whole year for the next SEMA racking inspection.

The Racking Inspection Training course provides essential knowledge for warehouse personnel responsible for the safety of the Pallet Racking systems.

We provide information and instructions on how to carry out a pallet racking inspection – How to measure and categorise any damage to the pallet racking – we discuss the need for rack safety inspections and the related legislation and guidance provide by the Health & Safety Executive & how to conduct a risk assessment of the storage equipment in your workplace in order to decide the frequency and type of racking inspections suitable.

SEMA Technical Bulletin No. 3

SEMA Rack Protection – Maximise Racking Safety

Minimising the possibility of damage to pallet racking is one of the most important challenges facing the storage industry and SEMA are very active in promoting the safe use of storage equipment.

One of the most relevant documents for the safe use of pallet racking is the ‘SEMA Code of Practice for the Use of Static Pallet Racking SEMA 2010.’ A complimentary copy of this code is available from SEMA for all End Users.

The SEMA Users Code has various requirements which will minimise damage including:-

  • Person responsible for racking safety
  • The User should nominate a competent person to be responsible for racking safety (PRRS).
  • The PRRS is responsible for ensuring that the racking is used, inspected and maintained in accordance with the appropriate regulations and guidelines.

Operator Training To Reduce Racking Damage and Accidents

The User shall ensure that the operators are trained in the appropriate use and limitations of the storage equipment. It is the responsibility of the User to maintain the racking in reasonable condition. Comprehensive and effective driver training will minimise the possibility of any accidents.

Rack Protection

End frame protectors are recommended, in truck operated racking, for all end frames between a gangway and an aisle and also for all end frames between a bridge bay and an aisle. Other racking protection requirements should be considered as identified by the risk assessment. The User should be aware of the implications of retrofitting protection devices which reduce operating clearances and can, in some circumstances, lead to an increase in the amount of damage.

Inspection Requirements

Regular inspection of the pallet racking is required. The inspection should follow a hierarchical approach using 3 levels of inspection as follows:-

1. Damage inspection by warehouse operatives
2. Weekly inspections as a visual check from ground level
3. Annual or bi-annual inspection by a ‘technically competent’ person


Any damaged component, noted during inspection as requiring repair or replacement, should be taken out of use in accordance with SEMA guidelines and repaired or replaced by suitably trained personnel as required.

Typical racking protection requirements are shown in Figures 1 and 2.

Racking Inspections

Figure 1. Plan view of racking showing typical protection requirements

SEMA Racking Inspections

Figure 2. Elevation of racking showing typical protection requirements at a bridge bay

Another important document regarding the safe use of pallet racking is the HSE document ‘HSG 76, Warehousing and storage. A guide to health and safety.’ This can be downloaded free from the HSE website.

The HSE document has various requirements which will minimise damage including the following paragraphs on rack protection:-

Racking Protection Important In Reducing Risk

639 Where racking is likely to be struck by lift trucks and other vehicles, it should be protected. Generally, such damage is at the lower levels of the racking – use renewable column guards to minimise the risk of damage from accidental impact. Corner uprights in a run of racking are especially at risk and should be suitably provided with a protective device in a conspicuous colour.

640 Retrofitting upright protection devices to an existing aisle where they have never been provided can have the effect of reducing the available clearances for fork-lift truck manoeuvres, which can in some circumstances increase the amount of damage caused. Such situations need consideration on a case-by-case basis.

Unfortunately clause 639 is being interpreted that all racking uprights are likely to be hit and should therefore be protected by rack protectors and even that it’s the Law in the UK. This is not the correct interpretation of this clause.

Rack protectors should be regarded as a ‘last resort’ means of avoiding damage and other methods of damage prevention should be considered before taking the decision to use rack protectors.

The protection of racking is not just dependant on physical rack protectors, but relies on a number of items including:

  1. The specification
  2. The installation
  3. The defined responsibilities of the person responsible for racking safety
  4. The training of the operatives
  5. The inspection procedure
  6. The maintenance procedure

Items to be considered should include:-

  1. The type of damage to be protected against
  2. Whether other methods of protection are more appropriate
  3. The type of protector required
  4. Whether the protector will reduce clearances, potentially leading to more damage
  5. Whether the protector may hide potentially serious damage
  6. Whether the protector may lead to less reporting of damage
  7. Whether the protector may result in operatives using the protector as a buffer

The use of rack protectors should be carefully considered to ensure that it is appropriate and is not just a quick fix which may lead to further safety issues.

SEMA August 2012