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Racking: don’t risk it!

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02 November 2017

Jaap Vos, President of the Storage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association, explains the safety risks and compliance requirements relating to racking.

With warehouse space now at a premium, specifications and configurations using diverse types of racking and shelving can make a massive difference to efficiency, productivity and profit. But it's not about that golden calculation, 'price per pallet position', at all - in face, it's far from!

For end users, the Holy Grail is about bespoke solutions where all the variables are considered and included so that a true Return On Investment figure is arrived at. Payback can normally be arrived at over a two-year period, bringing ROI sharply into focus, if you’re talking to the right supplier. The three key criteria to look for are a safe working environment, accessibility to pallets and minimising damage to products stored.

 

Safety compliance
April 2015’s revised CDM regulations stated that clients are now regarded as the head of the procurement chain and the major influence on project standards and culture. A project is deemed to be more than a construction site and applies to all construction work.

From February 2016, new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences came into force. Businesses and individuals could face much greater fines and more individuals could face custodial sentences for serious offences than ever before. See www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk.

On safety, help is at hand from SEMA, the Storage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association, which is the 50-year-old British trade association of the storage equipment industry. We continually spearhead the drive to promote and extend the safe design, installation and use of storage equipment manufactured and supplied by our members.

Our UK trade body is well equipped to offer holistic structure and support on compliance to purchasers and users of storage equipment. All groups of SEMA membership must meet rigorous measures laid down on quality control as a condition of belonging to the association.

Our member groups comprise Full Manufacturing Members, SEMA Distributor Companies, SEMA Approved Installation Companies, SEMA Approved Rack Inspectors and SEIRS-registered and trained installers. SEIRS is SEMA’s Storage Equipment Installers Registration Scheme. All classes of membership are required to use SEIRS-qualified labour. These companies work specifically on bespoke projects.

 

End-user training
With all courses approved by RoSPA, SEMA leads on training and, for example, its one-day safety course on Rack Safety Awareness and Inspection for End Users takes an in-depth look at the need for inspections. The day details how to conduct an assessment and outlines what actions to take when the assessment is completed.

 

Site maintenance and inspection
Regular onsite maintenance is the ongoing critical element of operating a safe storage regime. Companies who don’t operate a structured approach to rack inspection and repair may risk invalidating their commercial insurance policy.

SEMA’s principles are simple. Safe storage follows a holistic approach: safe manufacture offering full traceability of product, safe design to meet laid down strict codes of practice, safe installation by SEIRS qualified labour and a rigorous, structured approach to rack maintenance through inspection and repair. It is the duty of an employer to manage risk and demonstrate a safe system of work.

While larger organisations are usually well resourced on safety issues, SEMA believes that many small to medium sized businesses could benefit from the expert support offered by a SEMA member company as the pressures on SMEs continue to grow.

A safe working environment for the end user and installer comes as standard when a SEMA manufactured system is specified. SEMA designed and supplied installations must meet our established Codes of Practice and be installed by a SEIRS-registered installer.

 

Assessing safety risks
SEMA operates a nationwide network of SEMA Approved Racking Inspectors (SARIs) who, when undertaking an inspection, provide a report and traffic light system to indicate actions required and over what timescale. Magazine designer; Could you create a traffic light infographic? Damage is classified in accordance with the SEMA classification system of Red, Amber and Green as follows:

Red risk
A Red risk indicates that severe damage, greater than twice the SEMA limits, has been identified. Immediate offloading and isolation of the rack is required, until repairs are made using the necessary original equipment manufacturer’s components, in line with SEMA Code of Practice for the Use of Static Racking (available from the SEMA website).

Amber risk
Amber risk is classified as those areas where the damage is sufficiently severe to warrant remedial work but not sufficiently severe to warrant the immediate offloading of the rack. Once the pallet positions in a specific area have been emptied, they should not be refilled until the repairs are carried out. If repairs are not carried out within four weeks, an Amber risk item automatically becomes a Red risk item.

Green risk
This is an area where damage is present but it is within the SEMA limits and should be recorded for further consideration at the next inspection.

 

Safety factors
There may be times when the safety factor is greater than the SEMA Code requirements, which may be due to several factors including:

·                     Racking capacity greater than the design load

·                     Reduced pallet weights

·                     Material slightly thicker or stronger than the design values

However, there may, in extreme situations, be times when the safety factor is close to or less than the Code requirements, which may be due to many factors. Each of these below can reduce the safety factor:

  • Material slightly thinner or lower strength than the design values
  • Slightly increased pallet weights (maybe the load is the maximum neglecting the pallet weight)
  • Slightly out-of-tolerance build (maybe relocated from the original location)
  • Height to first beam increased by a small amount (a significant increase in height will cause a significant reduction)

 

Justification
There have been no known incidents due to the continued use of Green risk damage and there are many years of experience to confirm that assurance, as well as the original theoretical basis.

The European Racking Industry carried out further research, testing and analysis before accepting the Green risk damage levels, which have now been part of the European Codes of Practice for the past nine years.

 

SEMA's view
Green risk damage reduces the safety factor. Racking with Green risk damage can continue to be used without any operational changes. However, the damage should be monitored on an annual basis and awareness is required of other items, which may also reduce the safety factor.

The Green risk category can identify repetitive damage and allows for solutions to be implemented before the issue becomes more serious.

 

About SEMA
With 165 members – including over 100 racking inspectors – SEMA is the British Trade Association of the Storage Equipment Industry. It is committed to promoting and extending the safe design, installation and use of storage equipment manufactured and supplied by its members.

Safety is paramount and SEMA works closely with the HSE & statutory authorities, as well as holding an annual safety conference. All SEMA Distributor Companies and SEMA Approved Installation Companies are independently audited and SEMA publishes 75 definitive technical Codes of Practice and Guidelines. The organisation also runs 100 RoSPA-approved training courses per year and over 5000 SEIRS installers are trained through six different courses. SEMA’s SEIRS programme is approved by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) for its Partner Card Scheme.

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