Keeping your employees safe in the warehouse is essential, yet ignoring your racking once in place can easily cause big problems. We look at how often you should inspect racking – it’s more than you think!

For all our talk of automation in the warehouse, the truth of the matter is that human beings are still central to the logistics industry. It is estimated that almost 2 million people are employed in the logistics and supply chain sector in the UK*. People are essential to our industry.

Keeping all those employees safe is essential. Yet, an area that seems neglected is the need to increase safety when it comes to your racking. The structure appears solid so surely it doesn’t need much attention. But, when you consider that a small knock or bump can significantly reduce the integrity of your racking and its load-carrying capacity, ignoring damage suddenly becomes critical.

How often should you inspect racking - the basics

When addressing racking in your warehouse, safety must start at the very beginning with the correct design, manufacture and supply. Your equipment needs to be designed and manufactured following processes that comply with SEMA Design Codes or the European Code EN 15512. These industry standards instruct on the structural analysis of racking, required safety factors, considerations for loading and component testing.

But what happens when your racking is in place? Be aware that your racking falls under work equipment and through PUWER, as the owner of the racking, you are responsible for the maintenance of the structure. When approaching how often to inspect racking, you need to take a 360o approach with safety at the forefront at every stage.

inspect racking
Image courtesy Warehouse Systems Ltd

Year-Round Inspections

Every day of the year, employees are working around your racking. When you consider that damage to your racking can occur at any time, it makes sense to involve your employees with reporting issues when they occur.

But, who to report to? This is where the HSE can help. They have produced a best practice guidance document for companies called ‘HSG76 Warehousing and Storage: A Guide to Health and Safety’. The guide recommends nominating a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) who will be a member of your workforce. They will perform weekly racking inspections that include checking correct use of the racking, recording damage levels and implementing action on any points.

Employee Training on how to inspect racking

Think about getting your employees onboard with maximising racking safety levels through training. Not only will it equip them with the skills they need to use the racking safely, but it will also pay dividends to reduce future damage and unnecessary costs.

You need training that is specific to your site, such as our SEMA Rack Safety Awareness Course. This training addresses how to operate safely around racking and read the load notice signage (a key safety item). It also covers the best inspection routine to implement, understanding and categorising damage plus how to implement action points.

Expert Inspections

To complete the maintenance circle, at least once a year, you must have your racking inspected by a professionally qualified racking inspector. They will conduct racking and storage assessments while also reporting and making recommendations to maintain safety.

As a benchmark for the industry, SEMA operates a nationwide network of SEMA Approved Racking Inspectors (SARI). These highly qualified individuals are trained and assessed to enhance their competency in practical and cognitive skill sets. Their detailed inspection report will cover the suitability and compatibility of your equipment. Essentially for racking owners, their report will classify any damage using a traffic light system which clearly indicates what actions are required and over what timescales.

As a leading voice within the storage industry, SEMA has been advising companies on safety standards for over 50 years. If you would like more information about the work of SEMA and our members please get in touch.

*Prologis CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE: Driving Employment Growth Within The UK’s Logistics Sector