Racking Installers – Is your racking safe?

In the warehouse, when trying to keep everyone as safe as possible, most warehouse owners understand the importance of meeting certain criteria. That includes good quality racking designed for its intended purpose, trained employees who understand how to use the equipment and a regular inspection regime. There is one area which, in our opinion, is forgotten yet is fundamentally critical - using correctly trained racking installers to install your racking. It’s a known fact, not delivering on this area not only ends up in avoidable costs but it is also incredibly dangerous.

Is your racking installer correctly trained?

Image courtesy of Warehouse Systems Ltd

When it comes to your health and safety requirements, warehouse managers need to be aware that most storage equipment installation projects are construction projects. As a result, they fall under CDM 2015 regulations. The HSE expects you, as the client, to check the credentials of your supplier. You also need to ensure they are ‘the right people for the right job’.

HSE guideline HSG76 (Warehousing and Storage: A Guide to Health and Safety), written for the warehousing and storage industry, also covers racking. It’s not a legal requirement to follow this best practice document but adhering to the advice given is normally enough to comply and, more importantly keep you on the right side of the law.

When it comes to the installation, the guidance states that ‘racking should only be installed by competent people in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions’. Sounds simple enough. But, in a profession that is largely unregulated, how do you know if your installer is  working safely?

Experience doesn’t necessarily guarantee safety. It’s very easy in any job to pick up bad habits or even worse, not learn the correct methods and skills in the first place. When you consider that even the smallest deviation from design intent can affect the structural integrity of the system. The need to have a qualified person installing your racking becomes crucial.

Is your installer up to date with the latest standards? Do they have the trained experience and knowledge to understand the number and type of floor fixings? Do they know how they should be positioned and tightened to meet manufacturers’ tolerances?

Racking installer training

Installers can only work safely if they have been trained and in reality most installers still learn ‘on the job’.

In response to the problem, over 20 years ago SEMA established SEIRS. The national registration scheme rigorously trains installers on correct installation methods in accordance with SEMA standards. The initiative is supported by the Health and Safety Executive and you will see a reference to SEIRS in HSG76. As a CSCS Partner Card Scheme it is a recognised route to a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card.

Last year, in a move to increase standards further, SEMA launched a new Diploma training programme. The remit for changing the course came from experts within the industry. Not only did they want a new course that would challenge racking installers. But also a clear benchmark that anyone who passes the SEIRS diploma is working to the highest standards.

SEIRS Training

The new course is in two key stages. Part 1 is the Foundation Course and as an introduction instructs installers on generic and industry-specific health and safety issues that are likely to affect pallet racking installations. At the end of the course, the installer receives a SEIRS Trainee card which is valid for six months. This period of time enables the trainee to develop and enhance their skill sets on sites while under supervision.

Part 2, the Diploma level is a two-day course which completes the racking installers training. On successfully passing a thorough assessment process, we award the installer a full SEIRS card, valid for five years. The course includes a mixture of classroom-based theory and, in a first for the industry, a significant practical element. This course is much more rigorous and challenging with the emphasis on the practical component.

Last year we had 525 delegates attend our SEIRS training - not everyone passed!

Check, check and check again!

Of course, you don’t have to use an installer trained by SEMA, but a SEIRS card provides assurances they work to the highest industry standards. Importantly, to maintain their credentials installers must attend a refresher training course every three years. This provides you with reassurances that their knowledge is always up to date with the latest safety procedures and legislation.

When working with a supplier it’s too easy to assume they’re using an installation crew who have had adequate training. If you’re getting new racking installed or need remedial work done never take it for granted. It only takes two minutes to ask for their SEIRS card and keep everyone safe.