When it comes to keeping workers safe and preventing accidents in a warehouse environment, regular racking inspection is essential.
It is not only important from an ethical point of view, nor as a means of cutting costs and avoiding downtime; there are racking inspection regulations to follow, with rules set out by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
In this racking inspection guide, we cover all the key issues that impact racking safety, from the types of inspections that are available to the training and qualifications that can be acquired in this area.
A racking inspection is a straightforward process to understand. It is effectively a thorough, formal assessment of the current condition of the rows of pallet racking that you have set up in your warehouse.
There are three levels of inspections available, which we will examine in detail a little later in our racking inspection guide. These include the immediate reporting of damage during day to day operations, the weekly visual inspections carried out by the designated Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS), and the expert inspections that need to be scheduled at least once a year.
For the third level, a professional with a SEMA approved inspector qualification will visit your premises, assess the storage solutions that you have on-site, identify any components which have been damaged and calculate the risk of accidents occurring.
A comprehensive racking inspection process will involve the scrutiny of other aspects of your storage setup. This can include whether payload limits are being exceeded, whether regulations are being adhered to and whether any changes need to be made to your goods handling and safety policies.
This type of holistic survey is obviously important, but many businesses may not be aware of the vital role that all three tiers of racking inspection play in ensuring the smooth running of a storage facility, and the protection of its staff.
Simply put, a racking inspection will help you avoid getting on the wrong side of the regulators. While pallet racking does not have its own unique legislation, it is covered by broader health and safety laws that bring with them wide-ranging obligations for employers to meet.
Racking is defined as being work equipment by the HSE, which means it has to meet the standards set in the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998. It is also covered by the Health & Safety at Work Act of 1974, the Management of Health & Safety At Work Regulations 1999 and the EN 15635 Steel Static Storage Systems standard governing its use and maintenance requirements.
Investigating each of these pieces of legislation is something that responsible employers should do to keep workers safe and meet the legal expectations that they are faced with when running a storage facility.
Safety should be a paramount concern for any business, no matter its size or the nature of the industry it occupies. The most prominent reason to carry out regular racking inspections is that it will help identify issues as soon as possible, rather than leaving them unnoticed until they cause a catastrophe.
The HSE has a specific guide covering the types of risks that are associated with warehouse and storage usage, as well as the steps which can be taken to avoid them. It provides a great template that businesses should follow if they want to stay on the right side of the law when it comes to safety.
The main thing to remember is that inspecting racking is not just about looking for signs of physical damage and faults, but also about checking that the racking is being used correctly. An inspection will determine whether the right types of pallets are being used, as well as exploring whether goods are being loaded in a way that does not exceed the safe working limits put in place by the racking manufacturer.
Most of all as an employer you need to follow this racking inspection guide because it will benefit your business in the long run. Damage or dangerous use of storage systems which goes unnoticed can create all kinds of problems, leading to injuries, deaths, downtime and the destruction of valuable goods. Inspections will weed out issues before they take root and allow you to make the most of your warehouse resources with confidence.
The regularity with which you inspect any storage solution will vary, but there are some general guidelines to follow to ensure that you remain compliant with regulations.
Whenever employees are working with racking, they should be on the lookout for any issues so that they can be reported and dealt with on the fly. In a sense, this means that your storage solutions will always be under the watchful eye of individuals who know what problems to pinpoint.
You will need to appoint a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) who will not only act as the point of contact when issues are identified, but will also be able to determine exactly how often inspections are carried out.
A risk assessment of your racking will give you a precise idea of the most appropriate inspection intervals, but in many cases, the PRRS will need to carry out visual inspections around once every 7 days. They will also take charge of creating a formal record of their findings for future reference.
A more thorough HSE racking inspection, conducted by an expert with a SEMA approved inspector qualification, will need to take place at least once every 12 months. In some cases, the regularity of these in-depth investigations will be higher, although again it depends on the conclusions that are drawn in the risk assessment of your pallet racking setup.
For an expertly executed annual racking inspection, it is important to get in touch with a qualified specialist. Daily and weekly racking inspection duties can be carried out by someone who is merely competent, but only an individual with a specific SEMA approved inspector qualification should be trusted with yearly checkups.
SEMA is the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association, while qualified inspectors are known as SARIs. This stands for SEMA Approved Rack Inspector and is a sure-fire signal that a person is equipped with the right skills and experience for the role.
With the help of SEMA training courses, it is possible for employers to educate staff in-house so that they can regularly check for racking safety issues. For annual inspections, however, it is generally necessary to hire in a third party SARI.
A SARI will not just be able to highlight safety issues that might have been missed, but will also write up a comprehensive report covering the current condition of your racking. This is a good way of gathering evidence that can be provided to the HSE as proof that your firm is complying with all relevant regulations.
There are three different levels that define racking inspection, which is as follows:
When a member of staff encounters a damaged pallet racking assembly, or notices that there is any other kind of problem with your storage solutions in the course of their work, they need to report this immediately. The employee who has been nominated as the PRRS is the point of contact and they will need to write up the incident so that it can be actioned.
For employees to be able to respond effectively after encountering damaged racking, it is vital that they receive safety training in this area. SEMA training courses are a good investment for organisations that want to stay on top of their health and safety responsibilities.
Once a week the PRRS will need to carry out a visual inspection of the entire racking setup, keeping a practised eye out for problems. Once they have done this, they will also need to note their findings on a permanent record for later reference.
The definition of ‘expert’ in this instance can be fairly broad, but as discussed earlier in the guide it is best to get help from a competent professional with a SEMA approved inspector qualification to their name.
This top tier of racking inspection should be conducted annually, and the PRRS will also be involved, this time as the recipient of the report written up by the expert inspector.
Qualified inspectors and competent experts in pallet racking safety assessments can be found in a variety of places. Some operate as independent contractors, while others are employed by pallet racking suppliers as part of the follow-on support provided after a business has invested in their products. Alternatively, you could train someone internally to fulfil this role, which may be an option to consider if you have multiple sites with racked storage that need to be assessed each year.
Here is a list of the key components of a pallet racking system that will need to be checked as part of a safety inspection, as well as the issues to look out for.
If you need the assistance of an expert with a SEMA approved inspector qualification, or want to organise SEMA training courses for your business, then all you need to do is get in touch with Apex Storage.
Our courses are cost-effective and will help to boost the safety and longevity of your pallet racking by empowering workers with the knowledge they need to identify and report problems as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, our experienced SARIs can visit your site and scrutinise your storage setup, write up a formal report and talk you through what issues need to be addressed if any. The benefit of working with our qualified inspectors is that they will also alert you to any changes you need to make to comply with health and safety regulations.
We provide racking inspection training in many parts of the UK and you can call our team today on 0800 118 2937 to get a quote or to talk through the inspection packages we offer and the advantages they provide our clients. Book your annual inspection with us and find out what a difference it can make!