Safety Guidelines for Warehouse Racking: Ensuring a Secure Work Environment

Warehouse Racking Safety Guidelines

When it comes to warehouse safety, no detail should be overlooked. Proper warehouse racking safety isn’t just about meeting regulations. It’s about ensuring a secure and productive work environment for everyone involved, that is what we are all about at SEE Racking Inspections. We are passionate about empowering warehouse managers and staff with the knowledge and skills they need to navigate warehouse operations safely and efficiently.

The Importance of Warehouse Racking Safety

Warehouse racking systems form the backbone of the logistics industry. These steel giants, such as warehouse pallet racking, rise high to accommodate an ever-increasing demand for goods. As a result, they’re often laden with weight and bustling with activity – a recipe for disaster if not carefully monitored and maintained. In fact, the HSE reported that in 2021/22, there were 16 fatal industries in the transport and storage sector, alongside a whopping 31,000 non-fatal injuries.

Accidents involving warehouse racking can be catastrophic, leading not only to potential injuries but also significant financial losses due to damaged stock and operational downtime. Consider the worst-case scenario, in which a member of staff is fatally injured in the warehouse, and the incident also included massive stock losses and equipment damage (for example, a forklift driver knocks over racking). This type of accident will cause tens of thousands of pounds of losses to the organisation, in addition to the irreplaceable loss of life – which will inevitably also have an immeasurable impact on general productivity and reputation.

If the warehouse management or safety is found to be responsible for the accident (due to lack of training or insufficient safety procedures and maintenance, for example), then there will also be hefty regulatory fines and possibly legal bills to contend with.

The good news? Most of these accidents are preventable with the proper safety guidelines in place and regular warehouse racking inspections. Understanding the potential risks is the first step towards creating a safer warehouse environment.

Common Risks Associated with Warehouse Racking Systems

Warehouse racking systems come with their own unique set of hazards. Knowing what these are can help you establish more robust safety procedures:

  • Improper Load Distribution: An unevenly distributed load can destabilise the racking system, leading to a potential collapse.
  • Exceeding Load Capacity: Overloading racking beyond its designed capacity puts undue stress on the structure, significantly increasing the risk of failure.
  • Damage from Handling Equipment: Forklifts and other heavy machinery can cause structural damage to the racking during loading and unloading.
  • Inadequate Training: Without proper training, employees may not understand the safe operation of equipment or how to properly load and unload items, resulting in unnecessary risk.

At SEE Racking Inspections, we’re committed to helping you mitigate these risks with our team of SEMA approved racking inspectors who can provide professional, knowledgeable advice and thorough racking inspections. We’re experts in the field, and we want to help you ensure your warehouse is as safe as it can be.

Safety Guidelines for Warehouse Racking Systems

Ensuring warehouse safety isn’t a one-time affair – it is an ongoing commitment that involves continuous assessment, training, and adherence to safety protocols. Here are a few key safety guidelines:

Regular Inspections

Schedule frequent warehouse racking inspections. On page 115 of the HSE document called HSG76, it is stated as follows ‘A technically competent person should carry out inspections at intervals of not more than 12 months.’

The team of SEMA approved racking inspectors at SEE Racking Inspections provide a comprehensive racking inspection service to help you identify potential risks and implement effective preventive measures.

View the HSG76 document on this link:

Proper Training

Make sure all warehouse staff receive thorough training on warehouse safety guidelines, including the safe use of equipment and best practices for loading and unloading racking systems.

SEE Ltd provide one day training courses which can be held at your companies premises for your warehouse team. Alternatively, you can visit one of our training centres or attend a rack safety awareness course online.

Find more information on our training courses by clicking this link:

Clear Markings

Ensure all racking systems are clearly marked with their maximum load capacity. This information should be prominently displayed and easy for all staff to understand. Find more information on this link:

Correct Use of Equipment

Ensure that all warehouse machinery and equipment are used correctly, adhering to safety procedures at all times.

Proper Maintenance

Regularly maintain your racking systems and replace damaged components as soon as they are identified.

Safety Equipment

Consider implementing additional safety equipment, such as anti-collapse mesh screens or upright protectors, to further enhance safety.

Let SEE Racking Inspections Help You

At SEE Racking Inspections, we know that every warehouse is unique, with its own set of challenges and risks. That is why we offer bespoke safety solutions tailored to your specific needs. Our team of SEMA approved racking inspectors can carry out a comprehensive warehouse racking inspection, provide safety training, and offer knowledgeable advice to help ensure you’re meeting all necessary safety guidelines.

We also understand that taking action on warehouse safety isn’t just about compliance; it’s about creating a work environment that values the well-being of its workers. It’s about showing your employees, stakeholders, and customers that you’re committed to operating responsibly and safely.

Remember, the costs of not investing in warehouse safety can be far greater than the costs of implementing a robust safety program – so don’t wait for an accident to happen: get ahead of the curve and make safety a priority today.

To find out how we can help you create a safer warehouse environment, fill in the form on our website to request a quotation for warehouse racking inspections. We look forward to working with you and contributing to a safer future for the logistics industry!

Warehouse Shelving and Warehouse Racking

Warehouse Racking

For any warehouse owner, it’s important to know your long span shelving from your cantilever racking.

Warehouse racking and warehouse shelving comes in many different forms. In order to run a safe and profitable warehouse, you’ll need to know about these different forms.

Warehouse Shelving or Warehouse Racking?

The terms warehouse shelving and warehouse racking are often used synonymously. By and large, warehouse shelving tends to refer to smaller storage systems, whereas warehouse racking refers to bigger ones.

Still, HSE offers a better distinction than that. In HSG 76, it defines warehouse racking as “a skeletal framework, of fixed or adjustable design, to support loads generally without the use of shelves”. This would suggest that a warehouse storage system which uses shelves is classified as warehouse shelving, whereas any other kind of warehouse storage system counts as warehouse racking.

HSE does concede, though, that some racking systems might contain shelves as well, expression “generally without use of shelves”. This confuses things somewhat, and it’s probably why so many people refer to both systems as synonyms.

In order to educate warehouse owners on the different systems they’ll be using, we are going to run through the different kinds of warehouse shelving, as well as the different kinds of warehouse racking.

1. Longspan Shelving

The most popular kind of warehouse shelving is longspan shelving. This type of shelving is versatile and incredibly basic. It consists of a flat, long shelf of wood or metal, and a metal skeleton to hold it together. When most people imagine shelving, they imagine the simplicity of longspan shelving.

Longspan warehouse shelving can be modified with extension bays to add more height to the system or with galvanised shelves for refrigerated storage. However, any sort of shelving or racking installation needs to be done by a certified professional or by someone qualified.

What’s more, be sure that any modification of your system does not breach the end user agreement or void the storage equipment manufacturer or producer’s guarantee.

2. Tyre Racking

Tyre racking is sometimes known as tyre shelving. However, as a tyre storage system doesn’t have any shelves, tyre racking is a more accurate description. Like cantilever racking, this system is designed in a way which makes it inconvenient for most kinds of storage, but extremely convenient for certain kinds of storage.

If you store tyres in your warehouse, tyre racking is designed to be the best possible system. It’s the safest, easiest, and best way to store tyres in a warehouse.

3. Clothing System

Just as tyres need a unique storage solution, so too do clothes. It might well be that your clothes are folded and stored in boxes. In which case, longspan shelving or pallet racking would suffice. However, for hanging clothes, there are specific systems out there.

Adjustable Pallet Racking

If longspan racking is the most popular and versatile warehouse shelving system, adjustable pallet racking is the most popular and versatile racking system. Instead of shelves, adjustable pallet racking uses pallets which can be adjusted vertically. This allows for a wide variety of storage.

Of course, sometimes, a generic system isn’t the best. This is why cantilever racking and other storage systems exist. Still, for a business which stores a variety of items, pallet racking systems remain immensely popular.

Mezzanine Racking System

A mezzanine racking system is a storage system with stairs and walkways which allow staff members to climb the system, but only in a very specific way. This is the only kind of racking system which can be climbed on, which is why there are strict guidelines regarding the load-bearing capacity.

Drive-Through Racking

For warehouses which use forklifts or other kinds of vehicles, drive-through racking is a great option. It’s designed to allow for the safe passage of vehicles, but drivers should still take extra care when operating a vehicle in a warehouse.

This means using rack protectors correctly, as outlined in HSE HSG76, by only using them as a last resort and it also means referring to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998.

Cantilever Racking

Pretty much all racking systems are variations on a pallet racking system. The most notable exception to this a cantilever racking system. A cantilever racking system consists of arms instead of pallets. The result is the ability to store long, thin objects — like timber or steel beams — much better than a pallet racking system could.

Because cantilever racking systems are specialist, they require specialist inspectors. The SEMA Approved Racking Inspector (SARI) from Storage Equipment Experts is one of the only SARIs to be qualified by SEMA to inspect cantilever racking as well as all kinds of pallet racking.

For inspection or inspection training on warehouse shelving or any kind of warehouse racking, contact Storage Equipment Experts. Phone us for a FREE consultation and for nationwide coverage for the whole of the UK and nationwide coverage for the whole of Ireland, too.

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) (

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.