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Ask The Inspector

23/08/2021

Warehouse and pallet racking are integral to the smooth storage and transportation of goods across the UK and beyond. To those outside of the industry, racking can seem like an elementary piece of the puzzle. Still, it can be more complicated than it might seem to find the right warehouse racking system for a specific location or product type. It can also be tricky to understand the warehouse racking safety implications and your legal duty concerning pallet racking inspections. Maintaining safety in warehouses and understanding your obligations under health and safety legislation isn’t an optional extra. If you run a warehouse, you need to stay on the right side of these regulations, or it can end in disaster – both physical disaster for your workforce and financial disaster when your insurance company finds out you haven’t adhered to the proper regulations. Many warehouse owners and managers are understandably confused by the abundance of legislation relating to their sector. What are the rules for warehouse racking inspections, and do you really need SEMA approved inspectors to visit your warehouse? As always, we’ve got you covered. We have the answers to some of the most common questions we get asked about racking inspections below. Q. Do I need a racking inspection? If you own or use a racking system, then the answer is yes. You will need a SEMA approved racking inspection. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) state that a ‘technically competent person should carry out independent racking inspections at intervals of no more than 12 months. This is HSE’s advice as outlined in HSG76 Warehousing and storage: a guide to health and safety. The legislation explicitly mentions SEMA approved inspections as a recommendation of good practice. It’s worth noting that there are some circumstances where you might need an earlier inspection. For example, if any equipment has been damaged or moved or if anything else has happened which makes you doubt the integrity of the racking and worry about its performance, you need an earlier rack safety inspection. Q. Is a Racking Inspection a Legal Requirement? Independent racking inspections are part of the HSE’s regulations and are part of the legal framework for any warehousing business. In other words, a professional pallet racking inspection must be carried out every 12 months, and the results of this audit, including any damage and required repairs, must be documented in a logbook. Warehouse racking inspections rely on a traffic light system with red risk requiring immediate action, amber risk requiring action as soon as possible and green items that only require surveillance. Q. What is a SEMA Approved Racking Inspector? A SEMA approved racking inspector is someone who has passed rigorous testing from SEMA to receive a SEMA approved inspectors qualification. Alongside the SEMA approved inspectors qualification, SEMA also runs cantilever racking inspection training. This top-up training course is designed for SEMA approved racking inspectors who also want to be experts on cantilever racking inspections. Q. What is SEMA? SEMA (the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association) is the private body responsible for guidance and industry standards on all things related to storage equipment. They work closely with HSE, and HSE often references their advice. Q. What is the SEMA Code of Practice? The SEMA Code of Practice is not one but several different documents by SEMA which outline best practice on warehouse safety. Each document can be purchased separately from the SEMA website. For guidance on a specific issue, HSE may recommend a specific SEMA Code of Practice. Q. What is HSE? HSE (Health and Safety Executive) is the official government body responsible for health and safety at work, but sometimes public health and safety as well. They often work with SEMA and other organisations to write health and safety law and to offer guidance on all things related to health and safety. Q. What is Racking Inspection Training? There are different kinds, but it often refers to training from a SEMA approved racking inspector designed to help warehouse employees perform the regular inspections which HSE recommends. Q. What’s the Difference Between a Pallet Racking Inspection and a Cantilever Racking Inspection? Pallet racking and cantilever racking are two different kinds of racking system. Most racking systems are pallet racking systems, and that’s why SEMA approved racking inspectors specialise in that kind of racking system. A pallet racking system uses pallets as shelves which can be adjusted vertically to store objects. However, warehouses that store long, thin objects (e.g. timber) often use cantilever racking instead. Cantilever racking uses arms, rather than shelves, to hold up objects. The system also operates on a cantilever principle. Therefore the upright is in the middle with two arms pointing out at either end to hold objects. However, sometimes the cantilever arms only point out at one end. Q. Why Should I choose IKON to arrange my inspection? Having performed racking inspections across many sectors across small, medium, and large businesses across the UK, we have a depth and breadth of experience you can count on. And, on top of that we are passionate about the health and safety because we believe that is paramount.

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