Our first question this month asks about Load Testing Racking Structures and our second this month enquires about Workstation Installations.

Load Notices

Q. I’m looking for some guidance on Load Notices and wondered if you could clarify for me whether Load Notices are actually required by law or not? I understand that Load Notices according to law need to look a certain way, but I was unsure whether by law we are actually required to display Load Notices on our racking or not.

I’ve read in the HSG76 that “Racking should have a clear unambiguous notice securely fixed to it” but I’m not clear whether that is law or just good H&S practice. Any guidance you could give me would be much appreciated.

A. Some people claim that a load sign is not required and I think that by the strict letter of the law they may even be correct!

HSE get leverage however by confirming that the employer has a legal responsibility to tell his/her employees how to use their equipment safely which is also a legal requirement! So, unless you can prove that every person on your staff that needs this information has been so told and has it to hand, including those on sick when this training was given and those who immediately forgot or lost the load limits that had been given to them…

A load sign is there as evidence that anyone who needs-to-know has the information readily to hand and it is in a form conforming with the Safety Signs and Signals Regulations. Plainly the HSE say it should be there, so unless there is a fundamental principal at stake we would recommend you follow this guidance, recommendation or law, which ever one it is.

Workstation Installations

Q. I have on a number of occasions now during inspections come across instances where people have work stations set up under the first beam level of pallet racking installations. This level may or may not have decking protection; some are kitted out, so in appearance at least, employees are based there for long periods of time. In certain instances there is clear damage etc to main members of the structure in the vicinity.

My reaction to date has been that these workstations, no matter how well protected or for however long a period of work time, should be a NO!

A. I don’t think we are going to be much help on this one as it is a classic of ‘it all depends.’

Like you we have seen these work stations and most certainly have condemned them if there is no decking above, however after that it does depend on the risk assessment. There is no specific guidance of which we are aware on requirements for this kind of thing. If it is a fast moving warehouse and if the aisles are quite narrow so there is a chance of an upright being hit as the truck lines up to go into the aisle then they should not be recommended. Similarly, if the rack above is heavily loaded.

On the other hand satellite warehouses can operate with only a single truck, the driver of which uses this desk with a computer terminal to print out paperwork relating to the pallet that he is delivering into the rest of the system. By definition there will be no one there during truck movement and if the driver is trained to do his own damage inspections then the level of risk can be quite low.

If it is possible to move such work stations elsewhere then recommending so during an inspection would be an improvement, however an inspector reminding the client of his responsibilities to carry out risk assessments to ensure his staff work safely might also provoke some action.

SEMA Technical Enquiries

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