The first question this month asks about timescale for repairs and our second asks about the loading of racking.

Timescale for effecting repairs

Q. Could clarification be given as to the timescale for effecting repairs to racking after identification of damage? The current SEMA guidelines state that the racking should be unloaded within four weeks after initial identification in the case of damage within the Amber category but does not state that the repairs have to be carried out within that period. This may in many cases prove to be impractical as many suppliers lead times are in excess of four weeks. Also, providing the racking is not re-loaded, can repairs be carried out in a timescale to suit the client?

A. Racking should not be allowed to continue in use indefinitely in a damaged state and, therefore, the restriction that if it was not repaired within a given time it moved from an amber risk item to a red risk was one which in effect means that the rack needs to be offloaded in the affected area. There are long-term storage situations where pallets are not moved for months at a time and in such a circumstance there is the danger that the rack might continue in use until the position was emptied perhaps many months later. Allowing a damaged rack to continue in use for perhaps 10 months or so, was felt to be unreasonable.

Conversely there is nothing that can require a rack owner to repair damage when, perhaps, the financial resources are not available or the owner wants to do the work at a later date. What must be done in such circumstances is to make sure that the rack cannot be reloaded until the repair is carried out. In this regard it is no different from a faulty fork truck that is stored at the back of the warehouse, with the keys and battery removed, for repair or disposal at some future time.

Another aspect is that if management are not seen to be reacting quickly to the damage then operatives can be forgiven for concluding that the damage was not all that serious and they can go on damaging the rack since no one does much about it. Hopefully this is not the message that any responsible warehouse manager would wish to be inferred.

Loading of racking

Q. Could you give me some advice on the loading of racking? Am I correct in saying that the design of the racking is to fit with the design of pallets, to enable the pallet blocks to take the weight against the racking beams and not the pallet struts taking the weight on the racking beams.

A. Yes, you are correct that the pallet blocks should be supported on the beams of pallet racking and it is not acceptable to have the load supported by the bottom boards of the pallet.

Appendix II of the SEMA Code of Practice for the Use of Static Pallet Racking gives some industry guidance on recommended frame dimensions required for particular pallet sizes.

For instance, with a four-way entry 1200 x 1000 pallet being stored with its 1200 side facing the aisle and the 1000 face spanning the beams of the racking this would require a 900mm end frame to support it. This would in effect mean that the pallet is designed to have 50mm overhang over the front and back beams in its optimum position and ensure that all corner blocks were supported adequately. If the pallet is accidentally placed such that the front face of the pallet is flush with the front beam (which is probably the worst position that might be achieved) then this will mean that there is a 100mm overhang at the rear though the corner block with most reputable pallets will be large enough that it is still supported on the racking beam.

We hope that this advice is of help and if you need further information we would commend the SEMA Code of Practice on the Use of Pallet Racking as a very useful document.

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 email to and we will do our best to have it answered by one of our technical experts.

SEMA Rack Safety Awareness 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 held at the SEMA headquarters in Burntwood, Staffordshire, 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,




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