Anyone working in the warehouse industry over the past year will have seen the impact national lockdowns have had on the online retail industry. The demand for storage space and systems has grown exponentially. At its peak in Q2 of 2020 it has been estimated that enquiries for additional warehousing were 111% higher when compared to the previous year.
Even as the lockdown eases experts within the industry are anticipating that the continued rise in online shopping could drive the demand for industrial storage space across the UK for another three years.
Keeping racking in working order
As demand for warehousing grows so does the need to ensure you are establishing a rigorous maintenance, inspection and repair programme for your racking system. After all a racking installation is a highly stressed piece of engineering and, on a daily basis, can be subjected to high loads, impacts and even minor collisions.
Ideally, the racking needs to be specified, designed and manufactured according to SEMA Codes by a SEMA Distributor Company and installed by SEIRS registered and trained installers.
We recommend that the management team appoints a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS). They will take day-to-day responsibility for maintaining safe operation of your storage systems, rack inspection and maintenance records. They need to have the skills necessary to analyse damage data, identify trends and, most importantly, have the authority to implement action. SEMA recommends the PRSS applies into company procedure a risk assessment and method statement for racking and storage inspection.
So how do you implement an appropriate inspection regime?
SEMA advocates a rigorous approach to rack inspections. There are three main reasons for an inspection (which is not a substitute for deficient, defective or absent specification, design, installation, training or maintenance):
- To check the condition of equipment for health and safety reasons and identify repair work
- To comply with legal requirements, provide a safe place of work and ensure that work equipment is suitable
- To verify that equipment has been installed correctly
The process involves three overlapping levels of inspection:
- Immediate inspection
The first level is the “Immediate Inspection” which requires the reporting of any areas of concern to the PRRS who will evaluate the seriousness. Warehouse staff should be encouraged to report problems immediately as they are often in the best position to notice if racking has been damaged.
Managers should provide training on the safe operation of the racking system, including the parts affecting their safety and the safety of others. There should be documented procedures put in place with records kept on the follow up action. Keep it simple for effectiveness!
2. Regular inspection
For ‘Regular’ inspections, SEMA recommends that in-house staff attend our Rack Safety Awareness course which covers; responsibilities, foundations for a location checklist, explanation of the load notice, inspection equipment, practical examples of damage categorisation and damage prevention.
The PRSS should make sure inspections are properly documented by a suitably trained individual. Frequency should be weekly or at other intervals based on risk assessment of the operating conditions of the warehouse.
This inspection should check:
- That loading is as specified on the safe load notice on the end of the run of racking
- Correct use is being followed, and
- If there are any missing or damaged components.
Be aware! Any damaged component noted during inspection as requiring repair or replacement should be taken out of use in accordance with SEMA guidelines.
3. Expert inspection
The third level of inspection is a yearly, or twice-yearly inspection (depending on the risk assessment) of the rack. It may be a trained specialist within the organisation, a specialist from the rack supplier, or an outside contractor. A documented report will identify damage and give guidance and comment on other warehouse activities.
There two different types of inspection available. A “damage only” inspection provides a list of damaged items and their location. A SARI report offers far more far more useful detail (see table below).
Undertaken by a SEMA Approved Inspector, the SARI inspection will check the rack configuration, type and manufacturer and a general identification of components. It will also check that the Load Notice specifically applies to the rack that it’s fixed to, often a problem if racking is moved or altered.
The inspector will use simple measuring equipment, work in a logical, systematic way, and record results of the inspection so that others can act on the information. Both regular and SARI Expert inspections are normally a visual check from ground level, so working at height shouldn’t be necessary.
A SARI will provide inspection results and classify the damage using the SEMA traffic light reporting system which indicates actions required and over what timescale. Green requires surveillance where defined damage limits are not exceeded. Amber damage requires ‘Action a.s.a.p.’ or normally within a four-week period. A Red risk indicates serious damage and requires immediate offloading of the rack.
If your racking system has been supplied by a SEMA Distributor Company (SDC) they may also have approved SARI inspectors who can provide the full service. Visit here for a list of SARI inspectors across the UK visit
|Damage report||Expert SARI report|
|Suitability of storage equipment||No||Yes|
|Suitability of operation||No||Yes|
|Comment on housekeeping||No||Yes|
|Suitability of mechanical handling equipment||No||Yes|
|Compatibility of storage equipment||No||Yes|
|Proposal for corrective action||No||Yes|
|Location of damaged items||Yes||Yes|
New Training Facility
SEMA regularly delivers carefully designed courses which cover everything from a one-day course on safe maintenance of your storage equipment all the way through to the more intensive three-day training course for SEMA Approved Rack Inspectors.
SEMA has opened the doors to its new training facilities at Burntwood and launched their 2021 training programme. Designed to meet the needs of each course, the dedicated centre offers learning in both the classroom and a warehouse setting for the practical elements of the courses. Training courses include SEIRS, SARI and Rack Safety Awareness.
Want to know more about SEMA training courses visit our Contact Us page and fill in the form and we can answer your questions.