Our first question this month is for Beam Re-Positioning and the second is asking for a recommendation with Rack Protectors.
Q. Good morning, our pallet racking system was installed by a SEMA approved installer and we have both (external) annual and (internal) monthly racking inspections. Occasionally we need to reset/alter pallet beams to different heights, can our warehouse staff who are competent but have not received any external training legally carry out this task? All warehouse staff have read and signed off ‘safe working practices’ on this procedure and Company guidelines. All resetting is checked over by the Warehouse Manager before the racking is used?
A. There are two parts to this question
1. Is it safe to reposition the beams?
2. Can the warehouse maintenance staff do this repositioning?
As far as the first part of the question is concerned rack beams should not be moved without reference to the supplier as this has the potential to alter the load carrying capacity of the rack. You should refer to the Load notice attached to the racking which includes a prohibition stating “Do not alter the structure without either checking effects against manufacturers’ technical data or obtaining approval from supplier”.
As an employer you have a responsibility to tell your employees how to use their work equipment safely and, if the carrying capacity of the rack is changed, and you have not told the employees of the effect of this change then there is an increased possibility of an accident.
If a beam is raised the unbraced length of the upright is longer and the upright/frame will have less load carrying capacity. There is no quick and easy way to calculate such changes and it is normally best to go back to the supplier and ask for revised load carrying capacity based on the proposed new geometry. There may be a charge for this work and new safe load notices should be fitted as part of this assessment.
Should you ever have a situation that it is not possible to obtain this information from a supplier there are consultants who can do the necessary calculations however they will usually be more expensive as they will need to work from first principles rather than by modifying existing calculations prepared when the rack was supplied originally. SEMA can help in indicating some consultants that can carry out such work.
With respect to the second part of the question it is possible for your in-house maintenance staff to re-position beams provided, of course, that the process is correctly managed.
Your risk assessment will need to determine a reasonably practical method of access for the specific circumstances and the equipment and procedures which will be necessary to carry out the work; this will vary depending upon the particular type of installation. SEMA recommends that specific guidance on a deconstruction method should, be obtained from the Designer and, at all stages during the dismantling procedures, the structure or parts thereof shall remain stable.
You may find the SEMA training course on managing Rack maintenance useful www.sema.org.uk/training/course-2.
You may also find the SEMA Guide to method statements useful www.sema.org.uk/codes-of-practice/publications/more/8346/page/1/guide-to-method-statements-for-the-installation-of-storage-equipment. This document is in the process of being re-written but much of the guidance remains valid.
Q. Are upright protectors recommended for use on racking? We currently have the plastic guards with foam backing installed on all of our uprights, we are removing these prior to our annual inspection but are wondering should we replace them?
A. Guidance with respect to upright protection is available in the “SEMA Code of practice for the design and use of racking protection”
You can also find useful guidance on the subject in the HSE publication HSG76 “Warehousing and storage: A guide to health and safety”, available as a free download at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg76.htm; in particular paragraphs 639-640 give specific information.
The 2021 SEMA Safety Conference has been scheduled for Thursday, 4 November; at the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull.
If you have a query send it to us and we will do our best to have it answered by one of our experts.
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.
SEMA Approved Rack Inspectors 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.
SEMA has 26 publications in stock – Codes of Practice, ‘Guides’ and European documents. For further information 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.