Our first query this month looks at the safety implications of using a cage and a Fork lift truck when storing goods at height. Our second is looking for clarification on Insurance inspectors and their qualifications.

Caged Procedure

Q. I work in a Warehouse where we store crated objects and boxes and sometimes need use of a fork lift and man up cage, requiring a man to step out of the cage and onto our shelving which is 2m plus in depth.

I would like to have some advice about what equipment I should invest in to make staff safe when we transfer ourselves from cage and then into our racks.

A. Please find below a quote from the HSE document HSG 76 (Free to download from the HSE website) which contains the basic requirements for working at height.

‘Any work at height, including maintenance work undertaken for you by a contractor, must be properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in as safe a way as is reasonably practicable.
This includes planning for emergencies and rescue where necessary. People involved in planning, supervising and organising work at height must be competent.’

There are a number of items which have to be considered when completing a specific procedure for working at height including:-

Does the work need to be done in this manner in the first place?

It might be possible for instance to use alternative means of access or even to automate the whole process so no one needs to be up there in the first place.

Has the shelving that you are stepping on been designed as a walkway?

Shelving is normally specified to carry a uniform distributed load and what you are describing hardly sounds like this.

Are the operatives in a safe working platform at all times?

Handrail toe-board and knee-rail would be expected.

What Personal Protective Equipment is required?

As well as identifying this, a written procedure (risk assessment and method statement) must be in place to ensure it is always used and is deployed correctly.

The equipment to be used: Cages are only meant to be used for unplanned work at height (See HSE document PM28).

The rescue equipment to be used

If an emergency occurs and someone needs to be rescued.

The competency of the people working at height.

One of the most important items to consider is the risk assessment and the procedure for undertaking the work at height.

This should be written by someone competent and should include a detailed risk assessment including the appropriate equipment and training requirements.

SEMA do not undertake items of work for specific companies, however, there are a number of companies who could visit your site to provide advice on equipment requirements, the risk assessment and the appropriate training requirements.

The SEMA Safety Conference on the 3rd November may be of interest, it is open to anyone from the storage industry and has a number of presentations on working at height, alongside safety specialists who will be on hand to answer questions. Details can be obtained from enquiry@sema.org.uk

Are Insurance Inspectors qualified?

Q. I. have periodic inspections carried out by our insurance company on our racking. Does their inspector need to have a SEMA qualification? If not what is ‘good practice’ with regards to qualifications?

A. First of all there is no ‘legal’ requirement for you inspector to have a SEMA qualification or any other qualification. What is important is that he needs to be ‘competent’ which is often a difficult thing to define. The SEMA qualifications are one way an inspector can demonstrate his competence to an end user that maybe knows very little about his background and that is one reason why the scheme was developed.

In this particular case it may well be your insurers who are certifying this particular person as ‘competent’ however from experience I would suggest that while such people are often very knowledgeable over a very wide field they sometimes lack specialist knowledge required in certain areas. This is perhaps not surprising as an insurance inspector might be expected to advise on anything from electrical safety on production lines to manual handling, workplace transport and warehouse racking and it is unlikely that he/she will be expert in all of these.

You might wish to discuss the qualifications of the Inspector that looks at your warehouse with your Insurer and if not satisfied might wish to engage a SEMA Approved rack Inspector to look at your racking independently. We find this occurs quite often and then the Insurance Assessor becomes the person that checks that the Rack Inspections have been done regularly and any repairs carried out in good order rather than carrying out those inspections personally.

The size of the installation is important, as if in a very small installation the risk does not warrant several people being involved with the inspection though in a large warehouse this could make a lot of sense.

SEMA is delighted to be working with WLN on the storage Q and A Column, published on a monthly basis. On the WLN website is a list of previously published columns. Please note: SEMA Users Club members also have access to a comprehensive range of additional storage related questions and answers.

Technical Enquiries: If you have a query send it to us and we will do our best to have it answered.

SEMA Rack Safety Awareness and Inspection Courses: 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.

SEMA Approved Rack Inspectors Qualification: This is aimed at professionals who conduct rack surveys as an integral and significant part of their duties.

SEMA Publications: SEMA publishes a number of documents including Codes of Practice, ‘Guides’ and European documents.

SEMA 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.

For more info, go to www.sema.org.uk

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