13th March 2019
Items Falling From Racking?
Our H&S advice line has received a spate of calls recently regarding clients who have suffered items falling from their racking systems. What steps should you be taking in this scenario?
Racking is higher risk than it might at first appear, with the potential for falling objects or collapse, however most of the near-miss incidents reported to us were concerning fork lift trucks (FLT’s) working in close proximity to the racking system. Loose items stored with racking bays have then been dislodged as an FLT passes by. Items have also fallen when being retrieved by FLT’s and goods have also been displaced due to accidental impact to racking stanchions.
Where to Start?
Firstly – start with reviewing whether the storage equipment you’re using is suitable for the type of items being stored, and the FLT’s you are using around it. It should noted that congestion is a common cause of falling objects – therefore good housekeeping and stock control are essential.
If items are loose and being dislodged – there is clearly an issue. Typical solutions are to use stillages to contain the products, or use shrink wrap to securely affix the products to the pallets.
Once you have established how, where and how high to store your items, it is important to ensure staff are made aware of the safe working procedures. It’s best to display signage with the key rules and capabilities of any storage systems so that it’s clear to all.
Where racking is likely to be struck by lift trucks and other vehicles, it should be protected. Generally, such damage is at the lower levels of the racking – use renewable column guards to minimise the risk of damage from accidental impact. Corner uprights in a run of racking are especially at risk and should be suitably provided with a protective device in a conspicuous colour.
There are other factors to consider which may mitigate collision risks also covering FLT driver training, speed, floor condition, lighting and site layout to name a few.
The collapse of racking systems may seem unlikely – but it does happen from time to time and can result in dire consequences. In this situation its important to note the incident may well be reportable under The Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013 under the following article:-
‘The unintentional collapse or partial collapse of any structure, which involves a fall of more than 5 tonnes of material’
The main causes of racking failure include overloading, collision with vehicles, collapse of the flooring, or due to damaged or missing parts of the racking system.
Always check that your racking can comfortably take the weight of the items you wish to store. The manufacture will be able to advise of its load bearing capacity and this should be clearly displayed. Racking should only be installed and modified by competent people in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
To ensure that a racking installation continues to be serviceable and safe, the storage equipment should be inspected on a regular basis. The HSE guidance on this subject (HSG76) recommends the following within their document entitled ‘Warehousing and Storage – A Guide to Health and Safety’
Visual inspections – Visual Inspections should be made at weekly or other regular intervals based on risk assessment. A formal written record should be maintained.
‘Expert’ inspections – A technically competent person should carry out inspections at intervals of not more than 12 months. A written report should be submitted with observations and proposals for any action necessary. A technically competent person might be a trained specialist within an organisation, a specialist from the rack supplier, or an independent qualified rack inspector.
A programme of rack awareness training is run regularly by SEMA to address the issue of visual inspection and a more formal course is run to qualify expert inspectors under the SARI (SEMA approved rack inspector) scheme.
Note – Normal rack inspections will be carried out from ground level unless there are indications of problems at high level that need investigation.