Our first question this month is asking for guidelines on racking tunnels and our second is for advice on height restrictions.

A guide for racking tunnels

Q. Have you any guide lines for racking tunnels?

A. SEMA recommends that there should be rack frame protection barriers where trucks pass through these tunnels in the same way as protection is provided at the ends of aisles. EN15629 recommends that where there are pedestrian passageways through racking then overhead guarding shall be provided although the exact nature of that guarding is not stated and needs to be determined by your risk assessment. EN15629 includes a similar recommendation when forklift trucks without overhead guards pass through these tunnels. So, as far as racking tunnels are concerned, it really comes down to your specific risk assessment. It might be good practice to fit under guarding to tunnel beams to prevent small objects falling from pallets into the tunnel area. In other situations, the larger risk could be fork truck impact on the overhead beams, which may be caused by an incorrect driving technique, such as moving with the forks/mast elevated or using the incorrect truck type in the warehouse. There is no single answer to your question and you will need to look closely at the particular circumstances in your warehouse, conduct your risk assessment and make any decisions accordingly.

Height restriction for racking?

Q. We have been advised to contact you by our Health & Safety advisor.

We are interested to know what the height restrictions are (if any) with regards to storage racking. Our current racking height is 5M but we would like to increase this in the near future to 8M at a proposed new site. Could you advise me on any implications that this may have along with any H&S issues that will need to be considered.

A. In short, there is no restriction on the height of racking that you can use and heights of 8 metres are considered perfectly normal these days. In fact, automated warehouses with racking up to 35 metres are not unusual. However plainly there are many issues and risks that need to be considered at these sorts of heights that will not be present at lower levels.

It is unlikely that your existing racking, which has presumably been designed for 5m height, can economically be modified for 8m so we are assuming you will equip your new site with new racking which is designed for the increased loads which will be placed upon it. It is also likely that your aisle equipment will need replacement and it is assumed that you will liaise with both your rack supplier and the aisle equipment supplier to confirm operating aisle widths necessary for safe operation in your new situation. You should also check that the floor slab of the warehouse can cope with any increase in load from the taller more heavily loaded racking.

Your staff may need familiarisation training for operating at the new height and it might be possible to obtain various driver aids to help with positioning. For instance, cctv or auto height selection are features offered on some trucks which can make the drivers’ job rather easier.

We would suggest that in making a change like this it is reasonable to predict that initially there may be an increased level of rack damage due to unfamiliarity with the new arrangement. This will improve as time progresses and skills improve – however, initially it would be a sensible precaution to increase the frequency of rack inspections to ensure that damage is detected and repaired quickly and dangerous situations are not allowed to remain longer than necessary.

SEMA Annual Safety Conference 2020

The 2020 SEMA Safety Conference has been scheduled for Thursday, 5 November; the venue will be the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull.

SEMA Rack Safety Awareness and Inspection Courses

SEMA runs a one-day safety course on Rack Safety Awareness and Inspection. These courses are aimed at end users, giving an in-depth look at the need for inspections, how to conduct an assessment and what actions to take when this is completed.

SEMA Approved Rack Inspectors Qualification

This qualification is aimed at professionals who conduct rack surveys as an integral and significant part of their duties.

SEMA Publications

SEMA has 26 publications in stock – Codes of Practice, ‘Guides’ and European documents – all of which are available from our Offices. For further information contact SEMA or visit our website, and click on ‘Codes of Practice’.


SEMA runs a USERS Club designed to be of benefit to purchasers and users of storage equipment. Members receive newsletters, access to specialised events and discounted rates on publications and codes of practice.




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