Will Racking Inspection Legislation Change in 2018?

Racking Inspection Legislation

2018 will likely bring many changes to the UK, so racking inspection legislation may have to change with it.

Racking inspection legislation has gone through many changes since the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 was passed. What started off as a very vague — but very important — workplace safety law became HSE. Today, HSE helps to create legislation and guidance for many specific workplace safety issues. Racking inspection legislation is just one such example of this.

What Is Racking Inspection Legislation?

Racking inspection legislation is a tough thing to define. The most cohesive guide on the topic of how and how often businesses should inspect their racking systems in the UK comes from HSE’s HSG76. The second edition of this guide was published in 2007 and it hasn’t been updated since.

However, HSE’s HSG76 is not legislation in of itself. Rather, it is good practice guidance from HSE. As such, the guide opens with the following caveat:

This guidance is issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law.

In short, while HSG76 may not have changed since 2007, that doesn’t mean that racking inspection legislation hasn’t changed or couldn’t change.

Examples of Racking Inspection Legislation

There are no British laws which were explicitly written to refer to racking inspection, but there are laws which affect racking inspections. In this sense, many pieces of racking inspection legislation have been introduced and have changed over the years.

One of the most important of these is the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998. In January this year, a business in Northampton was fined £330,000 and had to pay damages of over £11,000 after it pleaded guilty to breaching the fifth regulation of PUWER 1998.

This regulation emphasises an employer’s responsibility to make sure that work equipment is inspected after installation and at regular intervals. It’s exactly because of this regulation that businesses are legally required to inspect their racking systems in the same way, as racking systems count as work equipment.

So, Could Racking Inspection Legislation Change in 2018?

It’s possible. What’s more, it’s completely possible for the law to change and for HSE HS76 to stay the same. This is exactly what happened when the CDM Regulations were updated in 2015.

Coming into force just three years ago, these regulations have completely changed the onus of responsibility when it comes to racking inspections. Past CDM Regulations emphasised the importance of competence for employees working in a construction environment.

The issue was that competence — as well as what counted as construction work — was ill-defined by the previous regulations. In 2015, this all changed with the new CDM Regulations, which greatly expanded the legal definition of construction to include warehouses, television studios, and film sets to name a few examples.

What’s more, it is now the legal responsibility of employers to ensure that their employees are competent. It’s also now their legal responsibility to provide a convincing argument for the competence of their employers.

This change in responsibility had the effect of freeing up time and money for HSE, as well as making HSE’s HSG76 more important than ever. Even if the guide itself didn’t change, the fact that it is now an employer’s responsibility to define competence for themselves has led many to fall back on HSE’s advice in this guide.

It’s in this guide that HSE recommends annual racking inspections from SEMA approved racking inspectors (who they label as “experts”). They also recommend regular staff-led racking inspections.

At Storage Equipment Experts, we provide racking inspections from SEMA approved inspectors. We also provide racking inspection training from a SEMA approved racking inspector, so that your staff are competent enough to perform the regular staff-led inspections HSE recommends.

 Contact Storage Equipment Experts today for a FREE consultation on racking inspections from SEMA approved inspectors.

Pallet Racking Inspection Training and Work At Height

a man looking up at a tall warehouse racking

Pallet racking inspection training is one of the many safety procedures warehouse owners should follow. Working at height safety is another.

When working at height, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and the potential dangers around you. One such danger might be that you ignore racking safety, so it’s important to consider the two safety disciplines together.

In order to do that, though, the definition of terms is vital.

Pallet Racking Safety Is…

Pallet racking safety refers to any kind of procedure designed to make pallet racking — and its use — safer. In the UK, the official safety procedures most relevant to pallet racking come from HSE and SEMA. These safety procedures include pallet racking inspection training, among other things. Pallet racking inspection training and pallet racking inspections in Ireland are not directly recommended by HSA, but there is an informal recommendation.

Work At Height Safety Is…

According to HSE’s HSG76, “work in any place, including above or below ground level, where someone could fall and injure themselves” counts as work at height. In the UK, the Work at Height Regulations 2005 outlines in full an employer’s legal responsibility when asking their staff to work at height. This includes, for example, making sure that people using a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) are either trained themselves or are supervised by a trained person.

Considering Pallet Racking Safety & Work at Height Safety Together

Pallet racking inspection training covers a whole range of procedures for ensuring pallet racking safety through inspections. However, inevitably, the course cannot cover everything. If it did, then HSE would not also recommend annual racking inspections from an expert (such as a SEMA approved racking inspector).

While you should always bear the whole warehouse in mind when thinking about safety, it’s often difficult to consider pallet racking safety and work at height safety at the same time. There are only a handful of specific situations when the two kinds of safety do need to be considered together, though it’s still important to be prepared for said situations.

It’s because of all of this that we have prepared a cheat sheet for the situations when racking safety and work at height safety should be considered together and what you should do in those situations.

#SituationRacking Safety ConsiderationsWork At Height Safety Considerations
1Items falling from rackingItems should be stored properly. While this often means not overloading a racking system, it also means making sure that things are stacked properly and are placed securely. To make sure this happens, always follow the manufacturer’s advice and follow the guidelines for storage set out in the Storage systems chapter of HSG76.The Work at Height Regulations 2005 spells this out as law:

Every employer shall, where necessary to prevent injury to any person, take suitable and sufficient steps to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, the fall of any material or object.”
This section of the law goes on to explain what employers are legally obliged to do to prevent injury from falling objects.
2Climbing on racking which is not designed for climbingIn short, don’t do it.

However, if someone does climb on it (even though they definitely shouldn’t have) the person responsible for racking safety (PRRS) should immediately check for damage.

If there is any visible damage, immediately offload the system and book a racking inspection from a SEMA approved inspector.
Once again, don’t do it.
3Climbing on racking which is designed for climbingUnless it is specifically designed for the purpose of being climbed on, you shouldn’t climb on racking. Even if the racking system is designed to be climbed on, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instruction and don’t add too much weight to the system.
If the system appears damaged after it’s been used, immediately offload the system and book a racking inspection from a SEMA approved inspector.
If racking is designed for climbing, follow the same advice for working on a ladder. Keep three points of contact, don’t overstretch, etc.
Even if racking is specifically designed for the express purpose of being climbed on, do not climb from an elevated working platform into a racking system.

If you want a better understanding of rack safety, Storage Equipment Experts.
Pallet racking inspection training course will outline all the information and procedures that HSE recommends.

Damage Isn’t Always Obvious: 4 Reasons We Need Racking Inspection Experts

Racking Inspection Experts UK

When most people think of warehouse dangers or damage to racking systems, they think of sensationalised stories or videos where racking system failures lead to disasters that are so extreme they are almost farcical.

However, with most cases, racking system damage is not as obvious as this. In many cases racking system damage is subtle, and that’s why we need racking inspection experts.

We Need Racking Inspection Experts Because Signs of Damage Differ From Brand to Brand

At Storage Equipment Experts, we are more than happy to inspect a wide variety of racking systems. Not all racking systems are the same, and the subtle differences between different racking systems are vitally important when it comes to inspection. What might seem normal for a Dexion storage system may be completely abnormal for a Mecalux storage system.

We Need Racking Inspection Experts Because Damage Can be Different by Pallet Racking Type

Even within a given brand, pallet racking types can still vary. This is why we have developed a pallet racking identifier to help businesses with their internal racking inspections.

Internal racking inspections are something which HSE state should be carried out by staff on a regular basis, alongside racking inspections from a racking inspection expert at least once a year. Our SEMA approved racking inspectors serve warehouses across the country, ensuring that any UK business can receive an annual, expert racking inspection. As for the internal inspections, this is why we provide pallet racking inspection training, a racking inspection checklist and a pallet racking identifier.

This identifier helps you to compare what your pallet racking should look like with what it does look like. Of course, there are bound to be some differences, but how much difference is safe? And what exactly constitutes damage with regards to each pallet racking system?

When the answer is not obvious, that’s when we need racking inspection experts. They dedicate their lives to knowing the answers to these questions. SEMA approved inspectors spend years studying what safe pallet racking is and what it is not, regardless of type, brand, or any other variation.

We Need Racking Inspection Experts Because Damage Sometimes Requires Maths to Spot

If a bend in your racking system is easily visible, then anyone can tell you that you have a problem. The reason we need racking inspection expert is because not all bends are obvious. Sometimes noticing a bend requires some expert know-how. SEMA approved inspectors have specific calculations in mind when they are figuring out whether a given piece of storage equipment is indeed bent and what the best course of action should be as a result.

We Need Racking Inspection Experts Because Damage is not Solved Easily

SEMA approved inspectors are racking inspection experts whose role is not just to tell you that you have a problem. Rather, racking inspection experts are there to help you solve your storage system problems. This is why we provide rack inspection training for businesses across the UK to help you to spot damaged racking earlier. The earlier the damage is spotted, the easier it is to fix. This law holds true in many walks of life, including racking system safety.

Damage isn’t always obvious. There is a whole spectrum of damage between safety and disaster. Before this particular warehouse found themselves in a situation where they called the ambulance 76 times over a two year period, there would have been many other warning signs. Racking inspection experts are there to spot warning signs as early as possible.

Concerned about your pallet racking system? Contact Storage Equipment Experts, the racking inspection experts who are SEMA approved in the UK.

The Sturdy Relationship Between Racking Inspections And HSE

Racking inspections HSE

HSE and the racking inspections industry are two major players in the world of warehouse safety, and their strong relationship is based on a common goal: safer warehouses across the UK. The HSE and racking inspection experts have often worked together to achieve this goal, and here are just some examples of when they have…

HSE recommends pallet racking inspections from SEMA approved racking inspectors

HSE recommends that relevant businesses have an “expert” pallet racking inspection at least once every 12 months. They state that the person tasked with carrying out the inspection should be “technically competent” and cite SEMA approved inspectors as an example of this kind of competence.

They go on to state that businesses should conduct internal pallet racking inspections using a traffic light system: red is an immediate emergency, amber is a situation that requires attention as soon as possible, and green means that the system only requires regular attention. This traffic light racking inspection system is designed so that all staff members have the same idea about what constitutes safe racking and what does not.

Of course, the best way to ensure that your staff are up for the job of using this system to perform racking inspections is to book a place on one our rack inspection training courses and/or use our racking inspection checklist. The rack inspection training course is delivered by a SEMA approved racking inspector and the checklist has been designed by a SEMA approved rack inspector.

Both are specifically designed to be an introduction to racking inspections for people who want to abide by HSE regulation with regular staff-led racking inspections alongside side regular visits from an expert, a SEMA approved racking inspector.

HSE respect the racking inspection industry’s opinion

At June 2015’s SEMA Seminar, Matt Grierson confirmed that HSE agreed to legally enforce SEMA’s ‘Guide to Method Statements’ if SEMA could turn it into a formal Code of Practice. Whether or not this actually ends up happening is still a big maybe. Grierson admitted that getting the relevant experts needed to write the code has proven tricky.

Still, the fact that HSE respects SEMA enough to turn something they have written into law is evidence of their respect for the racking inspection industry. The expert judgement of SEMA approved inspectors has not gone unnoticed by HSE, and it is this expectation that keeps the quality of our racking inspections by SEMA Approved inspectors and our racking inspection training so high.

HSE are present at the big racking inspection events

September 2015’s SEMA Safety Conference was a big day for the racking inspection industry, and so it should come as no surprise that HSE were well represented at the event. Of particular note was Rob Shaw, who delivered an in-depth talk about how slips, trips, and falls can be reduced in the warehouse, something which he has written a lot about for HSE and HSL. Shaw’s expertise was well received, and his dedication to reducing accidents in warehouses echoed the general theme of the event.

SEMA approved inspectors are proud of what they know, but they also recognise that they are a cog in a much larger machine. Warehouse safety is a large industry made of many different people in many different fields trying to bend the arc of history towards safety.

For that to happen, the racking inspection industry needs the support, knowledge, and respect of HSE. We are happy to say that we have all three of those things, and we give those things back to HSE in return. The relationship between HSE and racking inspections will mean only good things for the future of racking inspections and the future of warehouse safety.

Contact Storage Equipment Experts for the “expert” and “technically competent” racking inspections by SEMA approved inspectors and racking inspection training that HSE recommend.

Safe Use and Careful Maintenance of Warehouse Racking Systems

Warehouse racking systems is one of the most space-efficient forms of storage there is, capable of holding tonnes of goods in a minimal footprint. But the combination of vertically stacked heavy loads and fast-moving workplace transport (commonly forklifts) around these stacks brings its own set of risks.

Minimising these risks involves concentrating on the following three areas:

    • ensuring racking is built, loaded and, if necessary, modified in line with manufacturers’ guidelines
    • encouraging safe behaviour among employees loading and unloading or working around racking
    • monitoring any damage to racking frames and ensuring repairs don’t compromise their strength.

Shelf life

Racking systems should be installed by competent assemblers in line with the codes published by the of the storage trade body, the Storage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (SEMA) (www.sema.org.uk).

Manufacturers are required to provide safe loading data for all racking systems. For new installations, SEMA members will supply load data notices for you to display at the end of each run of racking, stating the maximum loading weights for bays and individual beams and the height of the first beam level.

All beams should have safety locks fitted. These low-cost components are designed to prevent the beam being raised accidentally when the pallet below is lifted, potentially dislodging two or three 1000kg pallets, bringing them down on the driver and anyone else below.

Any changes to beam levels need to be made with careful reference back to the manufacturer or supplier – get their confirmation, in writing, that the racking has the capacity to cope with the configuration you want. As Figure 1 (see over) shows, raising a lower beam by a few centimetres affects the loading capacity of the whole frame.

Set and enforce adequate handling clearances between pallet loads and the racking frame around them. SEMA specifies a minimum clearance of 75mm between the top of the load and the beam above and on each side. These are absolute minima and the more clearance you can allow, the safer your operation. Too little clearance above a load makes it difficult to remove the load without hitting the beam above. Above all, pallet loads should not be stored hard up against frames; this risks damaging the frame uprights and bracing members.

Good housekeeping

As noted already, the combination of slim frames and constant movement of heavily weighted vehicles (4.5-tonne forklifts, for instance) around and between them in warehouses and depots means that it is wishful thinking to expect that racking will not sustain knocks at some point. Your aim should be to keep those knocks to a minimum and to be aware of every one the system takes.

Strictly enforced rules on safe driving, speed limits, observing floor markings – all the standard features of a workplace transport policy – are the starting point. Left to their own devices, lift-truck drivers may assume there is enough of a safety margin left in the construction of good racking to allow for limited damage. This safety factor may well exist, but you must not let employees take it for granted. Part of their job descriptions should be to work in a way that avoids damage to the frames while loading or unloading or simply working near the racking.
Removable column guards or guard-rails are options to prevent lift trucks getting too close to the racking structure. Corner uprights are especially exposed and worth protecting and/or painting a bright colour to make them highly visible.

All workers should be trained to keep aisles between racking free of anything that might obstruct vehicles. Pallet loads or debris will reduce the clearance for drivers, making it more likely they will collide with the surrounding frames. Good housekeeping will not only help avoid slips and trips but also contribute to vehicle safety. In a recent incident, a wire-guided forklift was deflected by some shrink-wrap packaging left on a warehouse floor which broke the wire contact, causing the truck to career into nearby racking.

Any combination of alterations, damage and misaligned loading can compromise the frame structure to the point of collapse, even when it is not overloaded. You need to monitor and assess any damage to the racking structure, and this means anyone working around the racking needs to understand the importance of reporting any damage, whether it is the driver who clips the frame turning at the end of a bay or the depot manager noting a beam deflection during a stock-check.

Your racking should be inspected at least annually by a SEMA-approved rack inspector. Ideally you should contract an independent inspector without ties to a supplier/repairer then act quickly to fix any defects they report.
It’s not just the condition of the racking that needs monitoring. The state of the pallets placed on the racks can also affect overall stability and safety, so these need watching too. You should have a system of reporting damaged pallets so they can be removed and returned to the pool for repair or disposal.

Under repair

Where monitoring or an independent inspection throws up damage to uprights or beams that could compromise safety, the bay should be offloaded and employees warned not to use it until remedial repair work is completed. The usual course is to replace damaged sections with like-for-like components. Splicing new sections into damaged areas or welding in “foreign” sections into existing racking is not an adequate form of repair. Check that anyone working on your racking can prove their competence with a SEIRS card that shows they have been through SEMA’s Storage Equipment Installers Registration Scheme, which is supported by the HSE.

Racking is literally part of the furniture in warehouses and depots, but that does not mean you can afford to take it for granted in your health and safety assessments.