SEMA’s Steve Hall concludes the lead body’s Three Steps to Safety Campaign in Warehouse &?Logistics News by offering best practice guidance to end users on the maintenance and repair of storage systems including the use of rack protection measures. Again, it’s as easy as 1-2-3!
Racking collapse and subsequent potential prosecution are simple to avoid where there is a safety culture and that correct protocols for inspection, maintenance and repair exist. It’s the duty of an employer to manage risk to life and property who must always demonstrate a safe system of work. As the law stands, investment in terms of money, time and trouble must ‘grossly outweigh’ the risk not balance it.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 Part 1 states: As far as ‘reasonably practicable’ the employer must:
Provide and maintain plant and systems of work that are safe and without risk to health.
Ensure safety and absence of risks in the use, handing, storage and transport of articles and substances.
Provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
So how do you implement an appropriate regime?
The first form of protection is for the racking to be specified, designed and installed with adequate clearances and carrying capacity. Secondly, it must only be used by trained operators; and thirdly effective inspection and maintenance procedures must be in place. Staff need to be ‘safety aware’ in that damage is reported immediately, inspections are undertaken weekly or monthly by a suitably qualified individual and the need to employ a competent qualified rack inspector to undertake a six monthly or annual audit should be recognised. Ideally, always choose a SEMA Approved Rack Inspector (or SARI) as they have attained a high level qualification in this area.
When a SARI undertakes an inspection; a report is provided and a traffic light system indicates actions required and over what timescale. Green requires surveillance where defined damage limits are not exceeded as per the SEMA Code of Practice for the Use of Static Racking (available from the SEMA website). Amber damage requires ‘Action a.s.a.p.’ or normally within a four-week period. A Red risk indicates serious damage immediate offloading of the rack is required with repairs using identical undamaged components required, in line with SEMA’s Code of Practice.
Unfortunately, life is rarely straightforward and the use of rack protection in a warehouse has a lot to commend it. Rack protectors are NOT crash barriers and neither do they replace routine maintenance and repairs. SEMA has developed a specific code of practice; The Design and Use of Racking Protection to assist designers and suppliers in providing the right solution for the application. Considerations include the type of damage against which protection is required. Are protectors the right answer or are alternative methods better? Which type is best for the application? Will the protector will reduce clearances, potentially leading to more damage or hide potentially serious damage? Will the protector lead to less reporting of damage, or worse, result in operatives using the protector as a buffer?
A complimentary copy of the SEMA Code of Practice for the Use of Static Pallet Racking (in pdf format) is available for End Users and can be found at tinyurl.com/ourtgdj or by scanning the QR code:
Tel: 0121 601 6359