The first question this month concerns the amount space spaced that can be allowed between beams and our second question looks at the frequency that a rack inspection should be carried out.

Vertical Beam Spacing

Q. We use the Dexion Speedlock racking system rated at 2500kg per pair of beams, and I have a question about the vertical beam spacing. If the first beam has been installed at the regulation distance from the floor, what is the maximum distance permitted between the first and second beam, second and third beam, and is this dependent on the weight of the pallets? Any information would be of great help.

A. The capacity of a racking system is dependant on a number of items such as the type of upright, the type of beam and beam end connector, the number of bays, the number of beam levels, the beam spacing etc.

There is no standard height to the first beam level and this distance will depend upon the pallet height to be stored.

The height from first beam to second beam and second beam to third beam, is usually less critical structurally than the height to first beam as the load is lower, therefore, an equal spacing from ground to first beam and first to second beam etc., is generally acceptable if the design has been checked from ground floor to first beam.

If the beam spacing is greater than the height from ground to first beam then the design should be checked to determine whether this is acceptable or not.

If there is a splice, with a thinner upright section above the splice, then the design needs to be checked to determine whether the thinner upright section above the splice is of acceptable carrying capacity.

It is important that someone with the appropriate expertise, such as a Distributor, Manufacturer or an Independent Consultant, provides the load information based on an inspection of the racking. This should ensure that all the relevant issues are considered. As Dexion Speedlock is a well known racking system, it may be possible for the Racking Inspector who undertakes the Annual Inspection of the racking (preferably a SEMA Approved Rack Inspector – SARI) to advise on the allowable loads for the racking system and to provide a load notice attached to the racking.

Frequency of Inspections

Q. Our racking was installed just under a year ago and recently our contractors have got in touch suggesting we need a racking inspection. Our racks are 6.6m at their highest and can carry a maximum load of 480kg, and we are unaware of any damage to them. Currently the maximum weight we place on the racks is approximately 340kg. We do not use a forklift, but do use a scissor lift for approximately 30 minutes a day to manage overflow stocks.

Due to our low weight/low frequency/ scissor lift operation annual inspections sound a little too frequent. What would SEMA advise?

A. The frequency of inspection is down to a specific risk assessment of what you are storing on your racking and on the kind of operation that you are.

For instance it would be expected that a regional distribution warehouse working 24/7 – 365 days per year would suffer a great deal more in the way of wear and tear not mentioning abuse compared with an archive store operating single day shift only, 5 days per week. Obviously there is everything between these two extremes.

PUWER The provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations which tends to be the enforcing regulation requires you to inspect regularly and maintain your racking in good working order so there is little guidance on frequency of inspections in this document.

SEMA recommend biannual (every 6 months) inspections as a first step with subsequent inspections being scheduled depending on the level of problem found on the first inspection. The logic of this is that a new installation tends to receive some abuse until operators become familiar with the new situation. After the first few months accidents tend to reduce considerably unless there are major changes of personal or operating practices and therefore the inspection frequency can be extended significantly.

Personally I never like to extend an inspection period much beyond 15 months no matter how good a record an installation has, as change in warehouse circumstances can result in major changes in the level of damage almost overnight. If an inspection is left for too long in such situations a very expensive and unexpected repair bill can result quite apart from danger to personal working in the vicinity. If there is nothing to report then the inspection should be very quick and equally should be equally low cost.

It is difficult to advise without seeing the particular situation however carrying out an initial inspection and then reviewing frequency in the light of what is found may sound like a good option.

Finally you might like to have one of your own staff trained in what to look for and how to do this kind of work. If so I would suggest initially the SEMA Rack Awareness course as being a good introduction to what is required and this would give you internal control of your inspections.

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.

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

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