Our first query this month is looking for advice on safe working loads when a change in storage is applied to existing racking and our second looks at the question of competency and how to define it.

A change in fashion storage

Q. Originally our racking was designed / built as hanging garment rails, over time the site removed some of the horizontal bars in order to place pallets of boxes on the floor around the base of the racking and also on the mezzanine floor above (which was also originally just hanging garment rails)

Can you please confirm if safe working load notices must be displayed for both usages, one for simply hanging rails and one if used for pallets/boxes?

A. Hanging garment racking will have been designed to carry a specific load on the floor which is unlikely to be as heavy as that imposed from boxed goods on pallets. Obviously on the ground floor this may not be too much of a problem though the possibility of impact from pallets on the racking uprights might pose another kind of risk. On the upper floor or floors however it sounds as if some kind of serious overloading might possibly be taking place. We would suggest that you approach the original supplier of this storage system as they will have access to the original design calculations and should be able to tell you relatively easily what the structure was designed for in the first instance and what margin there might be for increased loading.

If this is not possible then you might need to engage the services of a specialist consulting structural engineer who would be prepared to calculate carrying capacity from first principles. This is likely to be expensive so it is worth some effort in trying to identify the original supplier.

It sound as if the present system might not be particularly optimal for the present usage and this might be an appropriate time to review storage needs and options to change to something more application specific.

Advice on Competency

Q.  Can you advise what rationales can state someone’s qualification / competency to perform a rack inspection and advise recommendations?

A. This definition of competency is one of the more difficult issues that we have to deal with in the racking industry. The Health and Safety Executive in the UK use a definition along the following lines that you might find useful:

A competent person is someone with sufficient professional or technical training and knowledge, actual experience and authority to enable them to:-

1) Carry out their assigned duties at the level of responsibility allocated to them

2) Recognise potential hazards related to the work (or equipment) under consideration

3) Detect any defects or omissions in that work (or equipment), recognise any implications for health and safety caused by those defects and omission and be able to specify remedial action to mitigate those implications

Whilst not a concise definition it useful in identifying whether a particular person might have lots of experience and no training while another might have lots of training, lots of experience but no authority etc.

Assuming that you will select people for this maintenance work that have experience and will give them the authority that they need the next important step to talk about would be training.

SEMA run short one day courses in West Bromwich near Birmingham about once per month on Rack Maintenance so this would be one way of getting some fairly basic training for your people.

This course is theoretical classroom based only and while it is illustrated with lots of photographs showing maintenance and rack repair work there is no practical element and a ‘certificate of attendance’ on the course is provided on completion. Some organisations will provide on-site training together with an assessment of the practical skills of those involved which is another way of being able to demonstrate competence.

SEMA is delighted to be working with WLN on the storage Question and Answer Column which is published in WLN on a monthly basis. On the WLN website is a list of previously published columns which we hope you find useful.

Please note that SEMA Users Club members also have access to a comprehensive range of additional storage related questions and answers.

For more information, please go to www.sema.org.uk.

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, www.sema.org.uk. 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. For further information contact SEMA.

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

Comments are closed.

Get Warehouse & Logistics News delivered to your inbox for FREE
Join over 45k subscribers