Our first question this month is asking for best practice and/or industry standards in regard to the cross support beam, the second looks at Loading Signs for Pallet Racking.

Cross Support Beams

Q. We are looking for best practice and/or industry standards in regard to the cross support beam (Orange) being fitted to the last holes on the upright. I have always been told that the upright is used for FLTs to locate/guide them safely when loading high level, it is used to prevent loads falling off sideways, and the upright at the top is weaker because it does not have ties bars to strengthen it as does the rest of the structure?

A. A lot of opinions and not too many specific rules on this one I am afraid.

We have seen various applications of this from beams with the connector welded level with the top surface of the beam such that there is a level storage surface all the way along a run of racking. In this application we have seen an extra pallet squeezed into a run on the top level though this does make for handling difficulties and it is necessary to check the extra upright loadings.

We have also heard your indicated wisdom of having the upright providing visual guidance protruding through to allow the top level pallets to be positioned accurately.

The only ‘coded’ guidance we have come across on this was a requirement by Pas de Calais Region in France some years ago that the end frame in a run needed to protrude significantly above the top beam level to prevent goods tippling sideways into a gangway. We think this was about a metre in height however cannot remember the exact detail. We do not think this applied to the intermediate frames.

We suggest this boils down to your specific risk assessment for your operation and if you feel nervous about it then it is likely that this nervousness is justified.

Loading Signs on Pallet Racking

Q. To conform to the SEMA code of practice could you please advise if it is mandatory to have loading signs on Pallet Racking, Shelving & Longspan. We seem to have a conflict as to exactly where they are required in relation to the types of racking to conform to SEMA code of practice.

A. This is one of those frequently asked questions!

There is no specific legislation to our knowledge requiring a load notice, however before getting carried away, there is a requirement for an employer to provide clear information to all employees on how to use any equipment provided safely! If as an employer you cannot prove that you told each and every employee what the maximum safe working load and any other restriction that apply to the storage system they were working with then as an employer you have a major problem!

In effect having a load sign is the simplest way of fulfilling this requirement which is therefore to all intents and purposes mandatory, if you follow the twisted logic of what is being said.

If you go the HSE web site (linked via www.sema.org.uk/ information/warehouse-safety) and/or do a search for HSG 76, this is a free download on warehouse safety and the Health and Safety Executive’s approach to it where you will find load notices as a formal requirement on all racking.

Plainly ignoring such HSE guidance is a substantial risk and the responsibility for the safety of employees has to be covered in some other way.

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