Two questions again this month, the first is several questions in one and looks at possible concerns that may arise during a site survey Our second involves unauthorised repairs to static racking.

Site Survey Inconsistencies

Q. One of my roles is to “walk the sites” looking at various practices with a view to encouraging safe working.

As a user company we have racking of different styles that have been erected.

Some of the variable features I have come across are:

– one bolt per column foot where there is a facility for two

– no SWL signage

– beam locking pins of different designs in the same assembly

– column guards on end of aisles only, or for the full length of fork truck travel

– different styles and ages of racking mixed when assembled

Can you please supply some guidance on these topics?

A. Taking each of the points in turn we would comment as follows:

One bolt per column base plate where there is a facility for two bolts:

Pallet racking can be designed with either a single or two bolt fixing to the floor slab, with the two bolts fixing generally allowing greater upright loads than the single bolt fixing. If the supplier had designed the racking with a single bolt base connection then that is acceptable even if the base plate has the facility for additional fixings. Alternatively, if the original design required a two bolt fixing to achieve the allowable loading on the load notice then a single fixing is obviously not acceptable. It is necessary to consult the supplier to check the basis of design in a particular set of circumstances. Some suppliers always use two fixings in their base plates as a matter of course.

No SWL signage:

Load notices are required to inform the user of the allowable load that can be safely supported on the racking. Without load notices, placed at suitable locations throughout the racking and clearly visible to users of the rack, there is a serious risk of the rack being overloaded which could lead to a dangerous situation.  Racking companies provide load notices in accordance with specific design calculations and if they are not present SEMA recommend that the original manufacturer or supplier of the racking be contacted in order to confirm the loading capacity of the racking.

The manufacturer or independent racking inspector would probably want to survey the installation to determine the Racking type and configuration and ascertain ifrepairs needed to be carried out.

Advice would be then be given regarding any requirements to provide a safe storage facility and when any necessary work had been carried out load notices could be provided in accordance with the recent SEMA publication.

Note: All remedial installation and repair work should be carried out by people trained to the appropriate level of SEIRS installation training.

Beam locking pins of different designs in same assemblies:

Beam safety locks are a safety feature to avoid the accidental lifting of a beam. Manufacturers design the beam safety locks to fit the specific holes in the connector and upright and if they are used in other manufacturers racking they may not offer the same level of protection and/or may not stay in place under loading. SEMA recommend that only the original manufacturer’s locks should be used. It may be that the locks in your case are different design variations from the same manufacturer and therefore the manufacturer should be requested to verify that the locks are suitable for the rack in question.

Column guards on ends of aisles only or full fork lift truck travel:

Frame guards are recommended for the protection of the end frames in runs of racking as these are particularly subject to traffic and are very susceptible to damage. Column guards within an aisle may be useful to provide low-level upright protection but are not a general requirement and if retrofitted may cut down the aisle clearance and cause additional difficulties. It is important that if uprights are being damaged then the cause of the damage is investigated rather than just installing protection.

The mixing of different styles and ages of racking mixed when assembled:

Usually mixing different ages of racking is not as important as mixing different styles. Some different styles of rack from the same manufacturer can be mixed and some cannot. However, it is generally not acceptable and potentially dangerous to mix different racking styles. Consult your supplier for advice on such matters.

SEMA produce a range of documents and guidelines including a user’s guide and a guide to the conduct of racking surveys that should both prove very useful for you. However, these are generic codes for the Industry and do not cover individual manufacturers products.

The SEMA one-day Rack Awareness and Inspection course would also be appropriate and beneficial for someone with your duties. Additionally, SEMA has designed load notice layouts for various types of storage equipment and these are illustrated in a ‘Load Notice’ publication that may also be useful to you.

Unauthorised repairs

Q. We operate a warehouse facility utilising static racking. The current crossbars offer a 105 inch bay width. We would like to increase the bay width to 132 inch by welding two crossbars together by seam welding. Would this be an acceptable practice? If so, are there any relevant publications to cover this modification process?

A. It is important that no unauthorised repairs are carried out to static racking.

Seam welding two beams together to form a longer beam is not acceptable and may result in a dangerous racking structure. No manufacturer would approve such a modification and as SEMA do not recommend any unauthorised repairs to static racking there are no publications regarding modifications.

Racking is designed for particular requirements by the manufacturers and each manufacturers design is different from its competitors. Therefore, it is recommended that the original manufacturer or supplier is contacted regarding the proposals for your revised storage requirements.

SEMA Technical Enquiries

We hope you find the above articles, and those in previous editions, interesting. If you have a query send it to us by fax or email and we will do our best to have it answered by one of our technical experts.

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. These courses are normally held at the SEMA headquarters but arrangements can be made to hold them at the delegates’ premises.

SEMA Approved Rack Inspectors Qualification

This qualification is aimed at professionals who conduct rack surveys as an integral and significant part of their duties. It involves delegates in undertaking an in-depth SEMA Course, together with an examination and practical assessment. CPD will be an important part of the qualification, demonstrating to end users that SEMA Approved Inspectors maintain a high professional standard.

SEMA Publications

SEMA publishes a number of documents including Codes of Practice, ‘Guides’ and European documents – all of which are available from our Office. For further information on these documents 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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