What Exactly is a SEMA Approved Racking Inspector and Why Do You Need One?

SEMA Approved Racking Inspector

Are you being told you should have your warehouse looked over by a SEMA approved racking inspector? This blog explains everything from who they are to why you need one.

Warehouses involved in the supply and demand business are often stacked to the rafters with racking, pallets and other storage equipment. Constructed using anything from wood to steel and holding products that range from bottled water to flammable goods, racking is a workhorse of the warehouse industry that should never be ignored.

Like all workhorses, the only way to keep operations running smoothly is through proper upkeep.

Your racking systems may seem perfectly adequate and secure, but there are numerous issues that may be affecting them — issues that could result in an unsafe or unstable warehouse environment. Problems with racking can endanger both workers and stock, which means appropriate maintenance is key. Racking inspections allow for the identification of potential problems and hazards including damage, material failure and incorrectly fitted elements.

With the information gained from these inspections, warehouse managers can then take steps to secure their goods, meet health and safety policy and ensure they are following laws relating to duty of care.

Who Are SEMA?

SEMA are an authority on racking inspections safety training. They are recognised across Europe as educators of the highest-quality racking inspectors — such as us here at Storage Equipment Experts.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the UK governing body responsible for the encouragement, monitoring and enforcement of health and safety practices, advises that warehouses are inspected by a SEMA approved racking inspector at least every 12 months.

What is a SEMA Approved Racking Inspector?

SEMA approved racking inspector is an individual who has undertaken extensive training under an approved SEMA program. This program allows the person to offer racking inspection services that are up to a level deemed satisfactory by HSE.

There are numerous types of racking inspection available. However, if you were to consider them all as different levels of British educational institutions, SEMA would be the top university.

Such training qualifies the SEMA approved racking inspector as a recognisable authority in warehouse equipment inspections. As a result, those who operate warehouses that contain storage equipment should consider hiring the services of a SEMA approved racking inspector over others offering similar services. At Storage Equipment Experts, we offer racking inspections by SEMA Approved inspectors across the UK and Ireland.

But do you really need a SEMA approved racking inspector? Can’t you just check the racking yourself or have somebody else do it?

Why Do I Need a SEMA Approved Racking Inspector?

When it comes to workplace safety, satisfactory — or even second-best — is not good enough.

Racking may seem mundane, but as with everything, there are inherent dangers that come hand-in-hand with its use. The problems faced can vary from issues as small as tripping over loose equipment to major collapses that threaten lives. Those who operate workplaces have a duty of care to their employees and when racking is in use, this extends to ensuring your equipment is maintained to an appropriate standard as to avoid potential hazards.

Racking inspections by SEMA Approved inspectors ensure your racking is checked to the highest possible standards, as dictated by HSE. This not only means a safe workplace for your employees, but it also adds a level of protection in the event of disaster.

There are no laws governing exactly how you should have your racking inspected, only that you need to provide a safe workplace for individuals under standard duty of care practice. However, by following HSE’s recommended practice of using a SEMA approved racking inspector, you have evidence — in the event of any health and safety concern — that your warehouse has acted under the guidance provided by the governing body.

Failure to use a SEMA approved inspected means that, if the worst was to happen, you don’t have that backup to protect your liability. While you haven’t broken any laws, by not using a SEMA approved inspector, you haven’t followed the recommended guidelines either, which reduces your ability to defend your culpability.

The recommendations may not be legislation, but they exist for a reason.

SEMA Approved Racking Inspectors Can Train Your Staff to Spot Problems

Annual inspections from a SEMA approved inspector are important, but it is also important to regularly monitor racking for signs of potential problems. If weaknesses develop or damage occurs six months into your yearly schedule, you’ll want people on your roster that can spot danger before it’s too late.

Identifying the warning signs early on means you can get a thorough inspection carried out before your employees, stock and brand are put at unnecessary and avoidable risk.

Our SEMA approved racking inspectors cannot offer your employees SEMA qualifications, but they can educate them on proper storage equipment safety processes, practices and threat identification. We can ensure employees are aware of a number of common problems, allowing them to act as an early warning system. If your staff know what to look out for and are able to engage in active workplace safety checks, your chances of experiencing a health and safety nightmare are severely reduced.

Are you in need of a SEMA approved racking inspector to carry out checks, or educate your staff on what to look out for and how to properly care for equipment? Storage Equipment Experts has years of industry experience and is fully qualified for the task. Get in touch today.

Basic Warehouse Safety Rules: How to Ensure Employee Compliance?

Warehouse Safety Rules

Are your employees ignoring basic warehouse safety rules? Follow our expert advice to ensure staff remain compliant at all times.

The term ‘health and safety’ has developed a bit of a stigma in recent years. Overcomplicated rules and regulations, seemingly inane workplace policies and other practices have led many to see the HSE — the UK’s governing body of health and safety management — as a bloated creation of unnecessary safety enforcement.

The result is that many people ignore the health and safety rules their workplaces have put in place. It is not uncommon to find employees disregarding company policy because they don’t respect the significance of the health and safety measures established.

Of course, there is no smoke without fire. Health and safety rules have taken some steps in the wrong direction in the past. A 2011 study outlined a number of ‘pointless’ EU laws that forced British businesses into costly and unnecessary risk avoidance strategies.

However, overzealous laws do not mean health and safety is completely without merit. Workplaces like warehouses carry a risk of injury and even death. Proper and appropriate health and safety is critical to avoiding such risks, which means employees must comply with company policy.

But in a world where health and safety is known for being mostly superfluous, how do you achieve this?

Encourage High-Priority Safety Culture

What does encouraging a safety culture mean? It means getting your employees to understand the importance of basic warehouse safety rules and why they are in place. Stressing the significance of your health and safety rules is imperative to workers actually understanding why they exist.

A strong way to do this is to show examples of potential injuries that can occur should health and safety rules not be followed. If you can find real-life circumstances and examples that illustrate your point, use them.

The aim is to cultivate a safety-conscious culture within your warehouse, where your staff not only respect the policies in place, but actively work to ensure they are followed. Encouraging employees to report breaches is another tactic you can employ. This means that not only will you find out if people are ignoring rules, but that workers will be more likely to follow them as there are more eyes observing their actions.

Avoid Unnecessary Safety Regulations

Part of making sure people respect and understand the importance of your basic warehouse safety rules is ensuring you’re not implementing unnecessary or pointless policies.

You must follow HSE law and duty of care when constructing workplace regulations. However, if you overstep the mark and go beyond what you have to do, you may find employees become less concerned with following certain rules.

If some rules are broken because they are deemed ridiculous, all rules are at risk of being ignored.

Create a dialogue with your staff about health and safety rules. Find out what they think about the regulations in place and work together to create policies that meet legal requirements, while also establishing regulations that employees feel are acceptable and legitimate. Involving your staff helps them engage more with the rules and ensures they place more significance on following them.

Conduct Regular Training

Part of compliance is knowing what you actually have to do, yet confusion at work is not uncommon. In fact, 50% of workers aren’t entirely sure of all their responsibilities. If employees aren’t even clear on what their job is, how can they be clear on all elements of health and safety?

Regular training works to accomplish two things:

  1. It refreshes workers on basic warehouse safety rules and ensures they are aware of exactly what is expected of them;
  2. It ensures they are aware of any new additions to your warehouse’s health and safety policy, such as changes in how to perform certain tasks.

Training means that all your workers know how to be compliant. If they know how to comply, they can’t break the rules by mistake.

Carry Out Spot-Checks

Training is important for compliance, but it’s important to know if your education platform is working.

Conduct spot-checks to find out. This involves not only randomly monitoring employees in the normal work environment, but also testing them. Ask your staff questions about how they would complete certain tasks that require basic warehouse safety rules to be followed.

Random spot-checks can lead to resentment if done improperly, so be sure to take an unbiased approach. This means monitoring and testing all individuals in the same way, no matter what position of authority they hold.

Ensure Consequence for Non-Compliance

Unless there is a health and safety breach as a result of negligence or non-compliance, there is no legal requirement that somebody face punishment as a consequence for ignoring health and safety.

That responsibility falls to the business.

Instigating a clear policy for non-compliance is an unfortunate but necessary task when it comes to combating disregard for health and safety rules. If your employees see no consequence for breaking rules, other than a slap on the wrist, then they’ll continue to do so. In continuing with such behaviour, they put others and themselves at serious risk.

Employees who do not comply with your basic warehouse safety rules must be disciplined accordingly, with punishments appropriate to the severity of the misconduct.

Reward Those Who Follow Basic Warehouse Safety Rules

Those who break the rules should be punished, but those who follow them shouldn’t be forgotten. Reward and incentive schemes are powerful tools for compliance and improving overall productivity. Staff who receive rewards for their efforts are, on average, 50% more engaged with their workplace than those who don’t, and are more motivated, too.

Engagement with basic warehouse safety rules is crucial to guaranteeing compliance. Having people motivated to comply is just a bonus. But how do you reward an employee for following the rules?

Every workplace will have their own unique reward system, as only you will know how to best incentivise your staff. However, here are a few tips. Reward those who:

  • Regularly pass spot-checks
  • Report safety issues without prompting
  • Are observed carrying out appropriate safety processes
  • Are reported to be following regulations properly by floor managers.

Warehouse staff need education in all types of safety procedures, including the use of racking and storage equipment. Our SEMA approved racking inspectors at Storage Equipment Experts can offer training on staying safe at work.

3 Common Warehouse Hazards and How to Prevent Them?

Warehouse workers after an accident in a warehouse

Without a rigorous approach to safety, warehouses can be dangerous places. So, here are the three common warehouse hazards and how to prevent them.

Warehouse hazards come in all forms. Some are completely avoidable by doing something simple, but not necessarily intuitive. Others are things that can’t be prevented and have to be managed or minimized instead. Some of the most common warehouse hazards are a mixture of both.

A thorough risk assessment will go a long way towards identifying and dealing with any potential workplace hazards. If you have a business with more than five people in it, you are legally required to do a risk assessment and record it. If you have less than five people in your business, HSE still recommends a risk assessment — but you don’t need to write anything down.

So, to give you a head start on your risk assessment, here are three common warehouse hazards to look out for and what you can do to stop them.

Warehouse Hazard #1: A Cold Wworkplace

Winter is finally over, but spring isn’t exactly sweltering either. The UK and Ireland have been beset with abnormally cold weather, and it has led many to question how cold a workplace is allowed to be.

For most workplaces, the answer is 16 degree Celsius. However, for workplaces where staff are engaged in physical work, the answer is 13 degrees Celsius. Warehouse work likely qualifies as physical, but maintaining a 13 degree warehouse can be harder than you might think. Warehouses are big, open spaces which aren’t typically insulated very well. When it’s minus 13 degrees outside, you may struggle to get your warehouse’s temperature above freezing.

The cold weather is an example of a hazard that you can’t prevent, but the temperature of your warehouse is something which can modify with decent heating and installation. Beyond that, insist that your staff are wearing appropriate clothing and make sure that they are following your recommendations for staying warm.

Warehouse Hazard #2: Slips, Trips & Falls

Late last year, Poundstretcher was charged £1,000,000 — all because its messy warehouse put people in danger of slips, trips, and falls.

While slips, trips, and falls are perhaps better understood as three separate hazards, they all relate to the same thing: your floor. A slippery surface can often result in a slip, an untidy surface can often result in a trip, and an uneven surface or a heightened surface without protection can often result in a fall.

These types of hazards are common in warehouses because of the sheer amount of floorspace a warehouse tends to have. As such, it’s easier for some corners of your floor to go unnoticed. What’s more, untidy floors are a more common problem in warehouses — where badly stored items can quickly become trip hazards — than in other workplaces.

HSE has a guide on how to prevent slips, trips, and falls which refers to the legislation relevant to these hazards. In a worst case scenario, a slips, trip, or fall can be fatal, but they are not inevitable. They don’t “just happen”, and there is a lot that can be done to make sure that they don’t happen.

As with any other warehouse hazard, a risk assessment will help you identify and deal with potential slips, trips, or falls. However, a floor map is a specific tool HSE recommends you use which will help you to do a risk assessment specifically for your floor.

To prevent slips, simple things like entrance mattings — so that wetness from outside isn’t brought inside — can reduce slips. Spills needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible, but the way in which a floor is cleaned can also drastically affect how much grip it has. Also, bear in mind that some types of floor are inherently more slippery than others, so installing new flooring might be a necessity.

To prevent trips and falls, make sure that guardrails are put anywhere where a fall might happen and that manufacturer’s instructions for mezzanine flooring or elevated surfaces are clearly displayed. Don’t leave things in stairways, throughways, or aisles; storing things properly will help to prevent this.

Warehouse Hazard #3: Misused Racking

Racking misuse can be fatal. Overloading a storage system, ignoring a damaged system, and messily stacking items on top of each other are just some of the examples of racking misuse which can cause severe accidents.

You don’t have to look far to find examples of racking collapses making headline news. When this happens, the best case scenario is that the business loses thousands of pounds due to broken or damaged product and a warehouse in need of repair. The worst case scenario is injury or death.

In order to make sure racking isn’t misused, employers should insist that all employees follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to the letter. Load notices give explicit guidance on how a racking system should be used and what the maximum load for the system should be.

As for damaged racking, employers should be trained on how to inspect a racking system because damage or missing parts are not always obvious. Inspections when a system has been potentially damaged — or even if damage is suspected — is a legal requirement under the
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998.

Beyond that, HSE also recommends regular staff inspections and an inspection from a SEMA approved racking inspector once a year. For staff inspections, Storage Equipment Experts recommends and provides racking inspection training for employees and employers. We are happy to deliver this training at your workplace or at our training centre.

To book your racking inspection by SEMA Approved inspector or racking inspection training today, contact us for a FREE consultation.

What is a “Person Responsible for Racking Safety”?

racking safety

SEMA recommends that every employer with a storage system nominates a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS), but what does that mean?

In an ideal world, everyone would be the person responsible for racking safety. After all, safety should be the concern of every employee and every employer, not just a select few. However, on a practical level, a Person Responsible for Racking Safety is an official role laid out by HSE’s HSG76 and  
SEMA’s Technical Bulletin 3.

Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS)

A Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) is a person nominated by an employer to take responsibility for ensuring that a racking system is “used, inspected and maintained in accordance with the appropriate regulations and guidelines”.

Does Every Business Need a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS)?

Not every business needs a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS), and there are two reasons for this. The first is that not every business has a storage equipment system — such as a racking system in a storeroom or a warehouse. If you do have one, HSE and SEMA recommends that you nominate a PRRS.

However, there is no legal need to nominate a PRRS even if you have a storage equipment system. HSE does recommend one as an example of best practice, and following HSE’s advice will likely mean that you are following the CDM Regulations 2015 as well as the law in general. Though, there is an important difference between the guidance offered by HSE and the legislation which HSE often writes.

In other words, you don’t need a PRRS, and you are free to take other actions. Though, if the worst should happen and
someone were injured or killed your workplace, you may well be asked to explain why you didn’t follow best practice advice from HSE and what advice you followed instead.

What Does a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) do?

The PRRS (Person Responsible for Racking Safety) is the person or even a group of persons within the organisation that oversees all things relating to the safety of the racking systems. This would usually include the following:

  • Training of internal staff
  • Deciding and maintaining the frequency of internal inspections
  • Checking the findings of internal inspections
  • Checking the findings of the expert Inspection (recommended at least once every 12 months by a SEMA approved racking inspector)
  • Reviewing any “Red Risk” or repetitive damage
  • Organising and reviewing any remedial works to the racking.

Put another way, any workplace with a warehouse or racking system should have one or more people within the organisation who are able to review all actions relating to the safety of the racking system. This will allow that person — or those people — to make informed decisions where necessary to maintain the safety of the racking.

Who Should I Nominate as My Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS)?

The person you nominate as your Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) should be more than just “competent”. HSE’s guide on warehouse safety and the CDM Regulations 2015 strongly stress the importance of “competence” of staff, because every member of staff should be competent.

Your PRRS should be more than that. They should be a person who knows rack safety inside and out and who can inspect a racking system by themselves using a
racking inspection checklist. It should be someone who has had rack inspection training for this task, who is able to identify each part of a rack system and who can tell whether a part is being misused, damaged, or missing.

In short, we wouldn’t recommend that anyone be nominated as a PRRS unless they have received racking inspection training from a SEMA approved racking inspector and unless they are using a racking inspection checklist.

Is a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) a Racking Inspection Expert?

No, a PRRS does not count as racking inspection expert. This distinction is important to understand because HSE and the European Committee for Standardisation recommend an inspection at least every 12 months from a third-party racking inspection expert. HSE then labels a SEMA approved racking inspector as an example of this sort of expert.

A racking inspection expert is someone who specialises in inspecting racking systems as a job and has been trained by SEMA. Being a SEMA approved racking inspector is a full-time job in its own right, so your PRRS will not qualify as a racking inspection expert.

To make sure that your PRRS is ready to inspect your workplace or to receive a racking inspection by SEMA Approved inspector, contact Storage Equipment Experts today for a FREE consultation on both of these services.

4 Top Warehouse Safety Tips for Business Owners

Warehouse Safety

Warehouse safety requires discipline, but it also requires knowledge.

If you own a warehouse, keeping it safe can be hard. After all, warehouses are big buildings, which means there will be a myriad of different things to consider when you’re performing a risk assessment. To help you along the way, here are four top warehouse safety tips.

Warehouse Safety Tip #1: Use a Floor Map

You are legally required to perform a risk assessment if your business has more than five employees. If it has less, it’s still recommended, but you don’t need to write anything down. As such, “perform a risk assessment” isn’t so much a warehouse safety tip as it is something which you are legally obliged to do.

Floor maps, though, are different. You are not legally required to use them, but they are a great way of helping you specifically with spotting the risks that exist as a result of your flooring. Warehouse floor space can be enormous, so identifying where potential hazards are can be hard if you do it as part of your general risk assessment. By doing your risk assessment for your floor separately through using a floor plan, you can be sure that you don’t miss anything.

Warehouse Safety Tip #2: Invest in Training

According to the CDM Regulations 2015, the people who work in your warehouse need to be “competent”. This notion of “competence” is intended to replace the countless card schemes which existed prior the CDM Regulations 2015, and it comes with a shift in responsibilities from HSE to the “client”. The “client” is the person who runs a construction project or — in the case of warehouses — the person who owns the warehouse.

In summary, the
CDM regulations mean that it’s up to the warehouse owner to decide whether or not someone is competent enough to work in their warehouse. If an accident should happen as a result of incompetence, the warehouse owner may be legally responsible.

This change in the onus of responsibility means that safety training is more important than ever. HSE won’t be there to make sure that your staff are trained, but the law will catch up with you if an untrained member of staff makes a dangerous mistake which a competent member of staff wouldn’t have.

Warehouse Safety Tip #3: Record Near Misses

Near misses are not accidents. Yet, they need to be treated as such because the only difference between an injury, a fatality and a near miss is luck. Every business needs a bit of luck when it comes to sales or marketing, but it’s not something which should ever be relied upon when it comes to safety. In fact, as a general rule, you should never rely on luck in business. Just be happy when it happens.

By recording near misses, you get to learn from a mistake without having to suffer the consequences of a mistake. By not recording or not acting upon near misses, you are willfully putting your employees in danger, and they may well have cause to make a legal complaint.

Warehouse safety tip #4: Nominate a person responsible for racking safety (PRRS)

One the one hand, safety is everybody’s responsibility. On the other hand, nominating a person responsible for racking safety (PRRS) guarantees that at least one person will consider the rack safety in your warehouse. This delegation can be done across the board — a person responsible for floor safety, a person responsible for vehicle safety, a person responsible for warehouse security.

Doing so will ensure that at least one person is paying attention to every aspect of warehouse safety at any given time. When combined with proper safety training, it will mean that you know that each responsible person is also a competent person.

For warehouse safety tips and a warehouse safety training course from a SEMA approved racking inspector, contact Storage Equipment Experts today for a FREE quote.

How to Stack Pallets Safely, According to a Safety Expert?

pallet stacking

Knowing how to stack pallets safely is an essential skill for running a warehouse safety.

If run a warehouse — or even if you run a business which deals with distribution and storage — you’ll likely have to deal with a lot of pallets. As such, you will need to know how to stack pallets safely. It sounds like a simple enough task, but there are a few common mistakes which business owners make.

Does HSE Have Advice on How to Stack Pallets Safely?

HSE has a lot of information on pallet safety in general, and stacking pallets is covered. Its guide to pallet safety is not a legal document, but it does refer to two laws: the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Following HSE’s guidance will likely mean that you are doing enough to adhere to those two pieces of legislation.

In this article, we’ve collected the advice from HSE’s document which is most relevant to stacking pallets specifically. When in doubt, businesses should always defer to HSE’s guidance, but this article is intended as a shorthand for the parts most relevant to stacking pallets safely.

How to Stack Pallets Safely With Five Easy Steps

1. Stack like with like

Because of the way the modern world works, pallets are universal. Broadly, their sizes and dimensions are covered by the International Standards Organisation. The reason for this is that it makes trade easier. With everyone using similar pallets, you can transport a pallet of goods from South Korea to South Africa, without having to worry about whether both warehouses will be using pallets.

As great as this system is, it has its flaws, the chief one being that the sizes and dimensions of pallets are only “broadly” similar. Not realising this, many warehouse owners and business owners make the mistake of stacking all pallets together — regardless of their differing shapes.

For obvious reasons, this is not how to stack pallets safely. The safe way to stack pallets of different sizes and dimensions is to separate them into piles which all contain the same kind of pallet. However, you need to be more thorough than that. Plastic needs to be stacked with plastic, metal with metal, and wood with wood for the ideal system.

2. Don’t Lean Pallets on Their Sides

Pallets need to be stacked vertically on top of each other because that’s how they’re designed. As such, stacking a pallet on its side means running counter to the manufacturer’s intentions. Doing so means that you — not the manufacturer — are responsible in the instance of injury.

Injuries are indeed likely to happen to happen when pallets are stacked on their side. Removing one for use could cause another to fall, or someone could trip on a pallet stacked awkwardly. For more information about the latter, refer to HSE’s guidance document on preventing slips, trips, and falls.

3. Make Sure Pallets are Stacked at the Right Height

Knowing how to stack pallets safely depends on who you ask. In the United States, OSHA lays out detailed recommendations on how high a stack of pallets should be. However, in the UK, HSE defers to the manufacturer. Even still, it’s general guidance is that the height of your stack should not exceed the length of the base. In other words, if your stack resembles a cube, you’ve reached your upper limit. If it resembles a tower, it’s already far too high.

4. Never Use Damaged Pallets

This is a no-brainer covered by PUWER 1998, but it’s easy enough to forget with pallets. Pallets aren’t the goods themselves, so damage to them isn’t considered an issue. While this is true to a certain degree, damage to pallets does matter in the sense that those damaged pallets are not fit for reuse.

Like all other work equipment, you should perform regular pallet inspections. HSE recommends inspecting pallets after each delivery, which is in line with PUWER 1998’s statement that inspections should occur in any instance where work equipment is liable to be damaged. A delivery — any delivery — is liable to damage a pallet. As such, an inspection should take place after every delivery.

Damaged pallets should be repaired if possible. If not, they should be disposed of and the materials recycled.

5. Don’t Forget About Your Pallet Racking

As a final word of advice, be sure not to forget about pallet racking. Knowing how to stack pallets safely is important, but your pallet racking should also be safe. Without well-maintained and regularly inspected pallet racking, even the best stacked pallets could be unsafe.

HSE recommends regular inspections performed by warehouse staff and inspections every 12 months from an expert, such as a SEMA approved racking inspector. For the former, Storage Equipment Experts performs
racking inspection training at a training centre in London or at your workplace — anywhere in the UK or Ireland! Storage Equipment Experts also provides racking inspections by SEMA approved inspectors for businesses across the UK and Ireland.

To book your racking inspection or training run by a SEMA approved racking inspector, contact Storage Equipment Experts today.

Who is Responsible for Health and Safety in the Workplace

who is responsible for safety in the workplace

With so many other things to worry about when running a business, it can be hard to know who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace. However, the answer is simpler than you might think…

who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace? One the one hand, everyone is responsible for safety in the workplace. Employers, employees, clients, and even members of the public or visitors — every single person who steps into a workplace is responsible for their own safety and the safety of others.

It’s nothing less than common sense and common ethics. If we imagined that safety was somehow the job of someone else, the buck would forever be passed to someone else. By emphasising that there is no single person who is responsible for safety in the workplace, we can make sure that everyone takes responsibility. When that happens, accidents are much less likely.

As SEMA says in its video on load notices, “safety is everyone’s job.”

All that said, the legal question of who is responsible for safety in the workplace is a little less settled than the moral question. In other words, in the case of an injury in the workplace, it is not the case that everyone would be legally responsible for the injury.

So, Legally Speaking, Who is Responsible for Health and Safety in the Workplace?

Legally speaking, everyone is responsible for safety in the workplace — but not everyone is responsible for the same thing and not everyone has the same amount of responsibility. The bulk of the responsibility rests with the employer, but an employee, a visitor, or even a member of the public has some responsibilities as well. HSE lays out employer responsibilities on its website.

You couldn’t give all of the legal responsibility for safety to the employer, because that would mean that any accident in their workplace would be their fault. So, if an employee decided to purposely injure another colleague, the employer would be accountable. This is obviously absurd, and that’s why an employee needs some responsibility for safety as well.

Equally absurd would be if everyone was equally responsible for safety. If employees are ask to perform a task without the correct training or safety equipment, it is not their responsibility to know what safety equipment or safety training they should have had. If an injury were to occur in that instance, the employer would be legally responsible.

HSE lays out employee responsibilities (including agency worker and temporary worker responsibilities) on its website.

There are also other instances of responsibility. A member of the public who walks into a workplace uninvited and who winds up injured because they ignored safety regulation is responsible for their own safety. A contractor who created a fault while working on a piece of equipment might be held responsible if that equipment goes wrong.

You might also be an employee who is a safety representative elect by a union. HSE lays out safety representative responsibilities on in its website. The two most important pieces of legislation with regards to safety representatives are the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996.

Finally, there is “client” responsibility as defined in cases covered by the CDM Regulations 2015). The CDM Regulations outline responsibility for safety in construction or design projects. This includes building sites, but it also includes film sets, music sets, and television show sets. In cases like these, the employer is harder to define.

As such, the term ‘client’ refers to “any person for whom a project is carried out”. In projects covered by the CDM Regulations 2015, the client is responsible for many of the things for which an employer would ordinarily be responsible.

Figuring out Who is Responsible for Safety in the Workplace

In order to know who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace, the best thing to do is to research the relevant law to look at the relevant guidelines. For warehouse safety, the owner of the warehouse or the employer is responsible for most safety, but employees have responsibilities, too.

HSE also recommends one particular employee to be nominate as the PRRS (Person Responsible for Racking Safety). This employee will have more responsibilities than other employees, though this is not a legally binding matter. It’s something which HSE advises in HSG76, but HSG76 is a guide and not legislation.

The PRRS should perform regular rack safety inspections alongside expert inspections from a SEMA approved racking inspector once every 12 months. We also recommend that a PRRS is trained by a SEMA approved racking inspector in order to help them with their regular inspections.

As you can see by this point, knowing who is responsible for safety in the workplace entirely depends on the industry you’re in, the relevant legislation, and the relevant guidelines. However, as a shorthand, making sure that safety is everyone’s job will go a long way towards making your workplace safer.

If you’re looking for racking inspection training from a SEMA approved racking inspector for your PRRS or your annual inspection from a SEMA approved racking inspector, contact Storage Equipment Experts today for a FREE consultation.

Why the UK Needs SEMA Racking Safety?

SEMA racking

SEMA racking safety is the cornerstone of warehouse safety in the UK. Without SEMA’s input, our nation’s warehouses would be very dangerous places.

It’s easy to not appreciate how safe British workplaces are. Far too often, the words “health and safety” are synonymous with a nanny state. Stories about “health and safety gone mad” are by far the most popular representations of health and safety in the media, but they are by no means an accurate or fair picture.

The UK needs SEMA racking safety because it helps to reduce the number of people who die at work. Yes, extreme examples of overprotective business owners refusing to do tasks as basic as heating baby milk on the grounds of health and safety are annoying, but there are two things to know about these sorts of stories.

Firstly, the stories themselves are seldom ever the result of an actual health and safety law. 99% of the time, these events happen either because business owners misunderstood the law or because they wanted to be extra careful. However, the truth is that there is no law banning conkers from British playgrounds, selfie sticks from nightclubs, or pins from pin the tail on the donkey games. These are all examples of the all-too-common health and safety myth.

Instead, there are headmasters of schools and business owners who want to avoid risk. If that means upsetting people, at least they can always blame “health and safety” and avoid losing face.

SEMA Racking Safety Has Helped to Make British Workplaces Some of the Safest in the World

The second and most important thing which those sorts of stories miss is how much SEMA racking safety and other health and safety legislation has helped to make the UK a safer place. For the last year-long period that we have data (2016 to 2017), 137 people died at work in the UK. Each one of those deaths is a tragedy, but when you compare that figure to other countries and other periods in history, you begin to see how far the UK has come.

To begin with, 137 is 85% less than the nearly 700 people who died a year at work in the UK during the 1970s, in a period where nearly 6,000 people who died at work every year in the UK at the start of the 20th century. Though, it’s not just history which shows how invested the UK is in workplace safety. With a workplace fatality rate of 0.4 per 100,000 workers for 2016/2017 and of 0.5 over the last few years, the UK is the safest country in Europe in terms of the workplace fatality rate.

Beyond Europe, the UK has a much lower workplace fatality rate than other countries. The United States has a workplace fatality rate of 3.6, which makes the UK a 900% safer place to work.

What Does SEMA Racking Safety Have to do With Any of This?

SEMA racking safety one of the many things which help to keep British workplaces so safe. HSE can’t afford to maintain safety all by itself, especially not when its budget is continuing to be cut. As such, private organisations like SEMA are needed to make sure that safety inspectors are trained and that updates to guidelines for racking safety best practice are published.

HSE often defers to SEMA racking guidelines and SEMA racking services in its guide to warehouse safety. The reason for this isn’t just because SEMA is a trustworthy organisation which understands rack safety. It’s also because it’s cheaper for HSE to outsource this sort of work to an organisation like SEMA.

As such, SEMA racking safety is part of the success story of British workplace safety. Without SEMA rack guidelines, its services, or SEMA racking safety inspectors, the UK would not be able to maintain such high standards of workplace safety.

To make sure that your warehouse maintains the highest safety standards, contact us today for a SEMA racking safety inspection from a SEMA approved racking inspector.

What is a Risk Assessment?

A risk assessment form on a desk

Risk assessment are essential to workplace safety, but what are they exactly?

Without a risk assessments, your workplace could well be breaking the law. Yet, the reason you might not have performed a risk assessment might not be because you’re trying to be dangerous. It could simply be because you don’t know what a risk assessment is.

So, what is a risk assessments? And how can businesses perform them?

What is a Risk Assessment and What is a Ssafety Inspection?

A risk assessment is not just a safety inspection. A risk assessment is an evaluation of all the potential dangers in your workplace, followed by a series of planned actions designed to remove, reduce and minimise those risks. Every business in the UK with more than five employees is legally required to perform a risk assessments – from a local bakery to the BBC.

A workplace safety inspection is a different thing entirely, though it’s also important. It involves checking for damage on a specific piece of work equipment and figuring out whether or not that piece of work equipment needs some kind of repair.

How is a Risk Assessment Performed?

Now that you can answer the question “What is a risk assessment?”, it’s time to actually perform one. A risk assessment involves five simple steps and none of these are designed to create unnecessary paperwork.

Rather, the aim is to make your workplace as safe as possible. Some of it might involve common sense, and that’s okay. Apply that common sense to come up with some common sense safety regulations.

1. Identify Potential Hazards

If you know what is a risk assessment and what is not a risk assessments, the first step should be very obvious. However, just in case, the first stage of a risk assessment is to — well — assess risks. Though, what does that mean in practice?

Have a look at your workplace and figure out where accidents could happen. Start by looking at the manufacturers’ recommendations on work equipment and the hazards they highlight. Then, take a look at your injury log book. Seeing how people have been injured in the past gives you a pretty clear idea of what’s dangerous about your workplace.

Next, consider some of the non-routine things you do in your workplace. If you have a delivery from a certain company only once every three months, there might be many ways in which you are unprepared for it. Then, consider the long-term health effects of your workplace. A long-term exposure to noise or cold could be a problem for your employees.

2. Consider Who These Hazards Might Impact

Your employees will be the first people who come to mind, but certain workers might be in more danger than others. People with pre-existing health conditions, people with disabilities, or pregnant women might be affected by a potential hazard which doesn’t affect the rest of your workforce.

Beyond your workforce, there are customers, clients, and even neighbouring businesses or members of the public that could potentially be injured by some of the hazards in your workplace. If they are, you are the one at fault.

3. Decide What to do About The Hazard

Once you have identified all the potential dangers in your workplace and who they might endanger, you need to try and remove all of those dangers, but only as much as is reasonably practicable.

For example, a set of stairs might have many dangers, so the safest thing to do would be to remove the stairs entirely and replace them with a lift, or do your entire business on one floor. However, doing either of those things would not be reasonable at all. So, consider the reasonable actions you could take instead.

You could make sure that no items are stored on the stairs, that people don’t run on the stairs, that there are no wet surfaces on the stairs, and that the stairway is well lit. This sort of thinking needs to run throughout your entire workplace. If it’s possible to remove a risk, remove it, If it’s possible to restrict access to a risk, restrict. If it’s possible to reduce a risk, reduce it.

4. Record and Evaluate Your Risk Assessment

Doing all of the above steps means that you know what risk assessment and what is not a risk assessment. That’s great. However, you will need to legally prove that you know what a risk assessment is. In order to do that, you’ll need to record your findings.

Although, if you have less than five employees, you will not need to provide proof that you performed a risk assessment in order to stay within the law. For businesses of that size, you are still expected to know what a risk assessment is and to have performed one, but you don’t need to write anything down.

According to HSE, in order to have performed a suitable risk assessment in the eyes of the law, the following needs to have happened:

  • A proper check was made
  • You asked who might be affected
  • You dealt with all the obvious significant hazards, taking into account the number of people who could be involved
  • The precautions are reasonable and the remaining risk is low
  • You involved your employees or their representatives in the process

If you can prove all of that in a short written risk assessment report (a template for one can be downloaded from HSE). Then you will have done enough to perform a risk assessment within the eyes of the law.

The final thing to do is to make sure that you review your risk assessments. If anything changes about your workplace (if new employees are hired, new equipment is brought it, or the layout of the workplace changes), make sure that you update your risk assessment accordingly.

What is a Risk Assessment For?

A risk assessment is for you, your employees, and anyone else who has any contact with your workplace. It’s for all of you and all of your safety. Contrary to opinion, it’s not for HSE. Yes, if you have more than five employees, the paperwork needs to be there so that HSE can prove you have performed a risk assessment. Yet, that should not mean that you imagine a risk assessment as something which needs to be done for the sake of doing.

A risk assessment exists as a record of workplace safety and as a way of guaranteeing that workplace safety is a priority.

I have a Warehouse. Can You Help Me With My Risk Assessment?

At Storage Equipment Experts, we offer Racking inspections by SEMA Approved inspectors and racking inspection training for businesses across the whole of the UK and Ireland. If you want your staff to have the skills to help you with your warehouse’s risk assessments, our racking inspection training course will give them the tools they need to identify all of the hazards associated with storage equipment and what they can do about those hazards.

What’s more, our racking inspections can also help to identify all of the hazards associated with storage equipment and what they can do about those hazards. This service consists of a visit from a SEMA approved racking inspector and is a service recommended by HSE once every 12 months.

In short, our racking inspection services can help you with your risk assessments. So, if you don’t know where to begin, contact us today for a FREE consultation about our racking inspection services.

Is Racking Inspection Legislation Different Across the EU?

europe 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. We can perform racking inspections anywhere in the UK or Ireland, so contact us today for a FREE consultation.