This month we bring you two enquiries, the first asks whether there are any regulations that govern the height of racking. The second asking if there are any restrictions on Euro pallets in 1200mm racking.

Maximum height of racking

Q. Could you please advise the maximum height of racking and are there any statutory regulations regarding height of racking: distance away from an operating area?

A. As far as SEMA is aware there is no statutory regulation in the UK regarding the height of racking, though obviously there is a general duty of care on all employers to ensure that operations in one area do not cause hazards for those working in this area or in adjacent areas. There is also a practical limitation as to what can be achieved with conventional rack building techniques.

Each situation needs to be considered in its own right. While local statutory authorities might be interested in boundary conditions during the planning process, this again would depend upon individual circumstances and a local authority might place a restriction on the height of a building and therefore the racking within this purely for aesthetic reasons. Obviously the consequences of a fully laden pallet falling from high level could cause serious consequences and therefore the layout and operating systems should be designed so that this possibility is minimised. If this risk cannot be eliminated completely it would be common sense to keep areas where a lot of people will be working clear of other storage operational areas.

In this country we have seen a series of warehouses constructed over the past 20 years going well over 30 metres in height and these generally have a good safety record.  Care does need to be taken in the design to ensure that the structures and the materials handling equipment are appropriate to the task.  If this is done there seems to be no reason to apply a particular arbitrary limitation on height.

Loading of Racking

Q. Do you know of any restrictions or legal implications when putting Euro pallets on to 1200mm wide racking? We have spoken to HSE and they have stated as far as they are concerned there are no restrictions.

A. Assuming you are using standard 800 x 1200 euro pallets located with the 800 face to the aisle then placing them in this orientation should present no problem as the bottom boards of the pallet span between the support beams and 3 pallets per 2700 pallet support beam is quite a common application. If the pallets are located such that the 1200 face is to the aisle then there is no bottom board spanning between the support beams and this is a problem.

The SEMA recommendations are that for a pallet supported in the 1200 direction the pallet racking end frame should be 1100. This will allow a 50 overhang of the pallet at front and back support beams which permits a reasonable amount of operator error in pallet placement which will inevitably occur.

If you are using 1200 frames to support 1200 pallets then the operators will have to place the pallets flush with the front face of the rack to ensure that the pallet is located on the back beam. Pallets themselves have a manufacturing tolerance so you could have a situation where an operator places a pallet that is say 12 undersize such that it overhangs the front beam by 15 due to placement inaccuracy. In such circumstances you could find the rear of the pallet only supported by 12 or so, on the rear beam, which is not a lot if accidental impacts and movement are then considered.

If this is the case you would appear to have two options. The first would be to have the frame depth changed which would involve stripping down the racking and substituting replacement frame bracing to give you a 1100 frame as recommended. The second option would be to provide two pallet support bars per pallet spanning between front and back beams located under the bottom boards of each pallet. This would in effect prevent the pallet from falling off the rear beam and would have the advantage that stripping down the racking would not be necessary. Most racking suppliers will provide pallet support beams as part of their standard range to allow varying sized pallets to be accommodated.

sema   Tel: 0121 601 6350

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