Have you considered what racking training means for your warehouse? When considering the success of your business, what's the worst thing that could happen. It might be not getting an order out in time, running out of vital stock or juggling business profitability. Let’s be honest, most companies have faced these challenges over the last few years.
But have you also considered the consequences if a bad accident happened at your workplace? The nightmare of sorting out the legalities, tidying up any mess and dealing with a visit from the HSE. Newspaper outlets could run a story on the incident which will impact on your reputation. Most importantly, one of your employees or customers could get hurt, or consequences far worse.
Adopting correct Health & Safety processes in the workplace is critical and this must extend through to your storage equipment – an area that can be easily forgotten.
Fortunately, fatal racking accidents are rare in this country but there is always the potential for them to happen. We certainly know our SEMA Approved Racking Inspectors have plenty of real-life stories to tell on the ‘what could have happened’ and ‘what might have been’ scenarios.
Get the basics right
The process of ensuring that your storage is safe starts at the point when you decide to buy the equipment. You need storage equipment that has been designed and independently assessed to ensure it lives up to its intended role. The design should address the space and width of your unit, maximise storage capability, improve efficiencies and protect your employees.
Once on site, the racking must be installed correctly to meet manufacturer and industry specifications using installers who have been correctly trained.
What happens when the equipment has been installed? You load the racking, and everyone starts using it. But this is when the problems can start. When in use your racking will be subject to knocks and bumps. These ‘little incidents’ can develop into serious problems with the risk level usually increasing if the damage is left unchecked.
Meet You Racking Responsibilities
You should be aware that your racking is classed as work equipment. Under PUWER (Provisions and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) you have a responsibility to ensure it is suitable for the intended use, safe to use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected. You must ensure it is only used by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training.
When addressing the ongoing maintenance of your racking the ideal solution is to equip your employees to become safety advocates. They will be using it daily, making them ideally situated to notice if anything goes wrong. This can only happen successfully if they have been trained on how to correctly load and work with the racking.
At SEMA we believe that training plays an essential role in maximising safety levels, and it is something we instil throughout the lifetime of a racking structure. For example, we have a national registration programme for installers of racking equipment called SEIRS. An important element of the programme is to train under assessment conditions on the safe and correct installation methods to meet SEMA defined standards and also manufacturer’s specifications. This includes very important details that guarantee the integrity of your structure such as the number and type of floor fixings and how they should be positioned and tightened to meet manufacturers’ tolerances.
We also advocate training for your employees, our Rack Safety Awareness course has been developed around the SEMA Users Code (and other guidance) and very specific to end users sites. This recommends that warehouse and management should nominate a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS). The PRRS is responsible for ensuring the racking is correctly used, inspected and maintained.
The course also provides guidance on the best inspection routine to implement. It will advise on how to conduct a risk assessment, record an inspection and report on damage levels and action points. Committing to a structured inspection should identify any problems early and can significantly reduce costly maintenance bills.
What if my racking needs repair work?
Be aware that any work on your storage equipment could affect your manufacturer’s warranty. For example, when you buy a structure manufactured by a SEMA Full Member it provides reassurance that a structural engineer has designed it to meet SEMA codes. It will also have undergone independent tests to ensure it meets its intended role. Any unauthorised work or repairs could dramatically impact the integrity of the structure.
At SEMA we have a supportive structure of distributor and installation companies who are qualified to conduct work on the manufacturer’s behalf. For peace of mind always check that the installers erecting your equipment are correctly trained for the job. Ask to see their SEIRS card before any work starts – it’s the best way to maximise safety!