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.

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.

Why the UK Needs SEMA Racking Safety?

SEMA Racking Safety

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.

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

SEMA Racking Safety

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

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

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

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

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 What’s more, the safety regulations of both the UK and Ireland should also be superseded by those of the EU.

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

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

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

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

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

2. SEMA Racking Safety Is Internationally Respected

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

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

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

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

3. SEMA Racking Safety Is Not The Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is a “SEMA Approved Racking Inspector”?

SEMA approved racking inspector

Since 2004, SEMA has been running courses for people wanting to become SEMA approved racking inspector (SARIs). A lot has changed in 13 years, but SEMA’s standards remain the same.

A SEMA approved racking inspector (also known as a SEMA approved inspector or SARI) is a person who has completed one of SEMA’s specialised training courses on racking inspections.

What’s the Difference Between SEMA Racking Inspection Courses and Your Racking Inspection Training Course?

SEMA racking inspection courses (also known as SEMA approved racking inspection courses) are specifically designed for future SEMA approved racking inspectors. According to HSE, people who pass that course are able to deliver “expert” third-party racking inspections for businesses. HSE recommends “expert” inspections such as these at least once a year.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 also recommends that further inspections are needed if work equipment (which includes all racking systems) is damaged in any way. This is why HSE recommends racking inspections from a SEMA approved inspector at least once a year.

There are two kinds of SEMA racking inspection courses: an adjustable pallet racking inspector course and a cantilever racking inspector course. Be sure to ask your SEMA approved inspector which course they have completed.

The course we deliver at Storage Equipment Experts is a racking inspection training course delivered by a SEMA approved racking inspector. This course will make your staff competent enough to deliver the regular staff-led racking inspections which HSE recommends once a week or so, not the expert inspections which it also recommends once a year.

As per the new CDM Regulations, it is your duty as an employer and warehouse owner to make sure that your staff are competent enough to perform any task in your warehouse — including regular staff-led racking inspections. This is why we offer our course.

While the racking inspection training course which we offer is by no means simple, passing the SEMA course to become a SEMA approved inspector is much more difficult. As previously mentioned, inspections from SEMA approved racking inspectors are recommended by HSE and the reason for this is SEMA’s rigid standards.

How Do You Become a SEMA Approved Inspector? Attend the SEMA Approved Racking Inspector Course

Before a person can even begin training for their SEMA approved inspector qualification, they need to complete an initial assessment as a pre-course qualifier. Only when this has been completed can they move on to the next stage, which requires candidates to “complete a specially designed intensive course, written examination and practical assessment”.

The intensive course lasts three days and the practical assessment is observed by people who expect excellent inspection technique, accurate damage assessment and concise reporting. Due to SEMA’s standards, the failure rate for this examination is high and as of 2017, there are only 107 registered SEMA approved racking inspectors in the world.

And we do mean “in the world”. The SEMA approved racking inspection course has a reputation across the globe. That’s why there are SEMA approved racking inspectors in Ireland, Spain, Poland, Finland, the UAE, Singapore, and China.

Most people who gain their SEMA approved inspector qualification are listed as an “adjustable pallet racking inspector” by SEMA. This is because most storage systems are some kind of pallet racking system — but not all of them.

Cantilever racking is becoming a more and more popular form of warehouse storage. As it is so different from pallet racking, SEMA offers a separate extension course on cantilever racking. Only 36 SEMA approved inspectors in the world are qualified SEMA approved pallet racking inspectors and SEMA approved cantilever racking inspectors.

One of those 36 SEMA approved inspectors works right here at Storage Equipment Experts.

How Do You Remain a SEMA Approved Racking Inspector? Remain Committed to Racking Safety

Being a SEMA approved racking inspector is an “ongoing commitment”. SEMA approved racking inspectors are expected to maintain their standards and their knowledge. To do this, SEMA approved inspectors need to be sure they are inspecting racking on a regular basis. Moreover, they should be attending SEMA meetings and seminars, completing any extra relevant courses available and imparting their knowledge to others.

At Storage Equipment Experts, we believe in all of these things. Our belief in imparting knowledge is why we have written articles for a wide variety of publications (both national and international), as well as this blog. We do this to ensure that we impart as much of our knowledge as possible to the warehousing, logistics and construction community. Knowledge is power — and we are firm believers in giving others that power, too.

What Kind of Person is a SEMA Approved Inspector?

As well as a competent pallet racking inspector, a SARI needs certain character traits. At the SEMA meeting on 17th September 2015, Mike Pace outlined the traits of a SEMA approved racking inspector. They have “sound observational skills”, “a robust understanding” and “a keen eye for detail”. Added to this, a SEMA approved racking inspector has “the ability to assimilate technical information” and the ability “to communicate findings clearly and concisely”.

At Storage Equipment Experts, we are proud to have the best SEMA approved racking inspectors in the UK and Ireland. Contact us today!