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15th May 2018

What’s the Deal with Racking Inspections?

What’s the Deal with Racking Inspections?…

This issue is applicable to many clients and is one routinely identified by our consultants during recent site visits.

An industry body which advises on the safety of storage systems has recently produced guidance on the best practice for carrying out a pallet racking inspection. What advice does it contain and is it something you should follow?

Legal Requirements

Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 employers have a legal obligation to routinely inspect any ‘work equipment’ which could deteriorate or be damaged, racking therefore falls within the definition of ‘work equipment.

The problem with racking in particular is that it tends to be abused in a busy environment and staff may not appreciate the risks associated with it until disaster strikes – and wither the whole rack collapses into the aisle, or items fall from the racking to the floor below. To assist companies managing their racking systems appropriately, the Storage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (SEMA) provides advice and training on racking safety. At the end of last year it updated its published recommendations.

Who’s in charge?

If you have storage racking in your business, it’s advised that you allocate overall responsibility for its safety to one individual or team. Their duty is to maintain safe operation of the racking, its inspection and records of maintenance. In order to be able to fulfil their role they must possess the necessary skills to carry out inspections, identify any damage and report/analyse damage data. They must also have the authority to suggest and enforce any action needed to manage and rectify defects.

Recommended inspections

SEMA suggests you implement three types of inspection:

  1. Immediate reporting of any damage or reasons for concern. The information should be reported to the manager who has been allocated the responsibility for racking safety.
  2. Regular internal pro-active inspections carried out by someone trained in racking inspection.
  3. Annual expert inspection, e.g. by a SEMA-approved racking inspector working for your racking supplier.

It should be noted that that whilst the above isn’t a specific legal requirement, the HSE fully endorses the SEMA approach including the use of their training courses, approved installers scheme and inspection recommendations. In fact, the HSE advises the very same approach in its own published guidance ‘Warehousing and Storage – HSG 76’

The latest version of the guidance moves away from rigid timeframes of daily and weekly inspections and replaces these with the words “immediate” and “regular”. However, if you run a busy warehouse, stick with the daily/weekly frequency.

It’s important to ensure that all warehouse staff are aware to report any defect or damage to the racking systems immedialty, and if your staff carry out regular inspections in-house, to ensure competency it would be wise to put them through a Rack Safety Awareness course. Working at height shouldn’t be necessary for weekly and daily inspections as these are usually visual checks completed from ground level only.


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