Our first question this month asks if SEMA Approve Load Notices and our second is a general racking question.
SEMA Approval of Load Notices
Q. We have recently completed a racking project for a customer and he wanted to make sure the Load Signs I have created would meet “SEMA” approval.
A. SEMA does not “approve” Load Notices.
Racking and shelving are considered to be work equipment and, therefore, are covered by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) which requires, amongst other things;
•That the equipment should be inspected and maintained in good working condition,
•That people operating work equipment are given adequate training in the correct use of the equipment,
•That employees are given necessary health and safety information.
The purpose of the load notice is not just to give information about the Safe Working Load (SWL) of the racking, but also to give important instructions and information about the general usage of the racking e.g. prohibitions about altering or climbing the racking as well as an instruction to report damage and signposts to information sources.
Paragraph 634 of the HSE publication “Warehousing and storage – A guide to health and safety” HSG76 states that “Racking should have a clear unambiguous notice securely fixed to it, stating the maximum load together with any necessary specified load configurations”. HSG76 goes on to refer to the SEMA Code of Practice for SEMA Load Notices in which the recommended format of the Load Notice is given. The SEMA format for the Load Notice is very similar to that given in EN15635 “Steel Static Storage Systems – Application and maintenance of storage equipment” which is available from BSI.
The format of a typical SEMA Load Notice for adjustable pallet racking is given below.
General Racking Question
Q. Is there a limit of the number of sections of Racks you are allowed and what would the weight limit for a pallet rack in total be?
A. These are rather broad questions.
Pallet racking can be designed to carry substantial loads.
Pallet racks can be anything from a few bays carrying a handful of pallets to substantial installations carrying hundreds of thousands of pallets.
Good quality timber pallets will typically be able to carry a uniformly distributed load of 1000kg although some timber pallets can carry as much as 1500kg uniformly distributed.
A typical pallet racking compartment will carry 2 or 3 pallets and the beams carrying the pallets will be designed for the loads applied by the pallets. It is common for a pair of beams in a compartment to carry 2×1000kg pallets although beams can be designed for 3×1500kg pallets.
Whilst there are obviously structural limits to the height of a pallet rack it is normally the mechanical handling equipment that is the limiting factor. A typical counterbalance forklift truck for use in a warehouse will lift pallets to around 6m, a reach truck to around 13m and a very narrow aisle truck to around 18m. Storage and retrieval cranes can be as much as 45m high but these are very specialised.
Pallet racks can be designed to be pretty much whatever height is required. Some of the “heaviest” forklift truck operated pallet racks might carry 30 tonnes per bay although weights below 10t per bay will be more typical.
Of course whatever weight is put into the rack must ultimately be carried by the rack foundation i.e. the warehouse floor slab, and this can often represent a limiting factor. Many typical warehouse floor slabs are limited to a maximum “leg load” from the pallet racking of around 70kN i.e. approximately 7 tonnes, so, in such circumstances, this will limit the maximum load that can be applied to the racking.
SEMA members will be able to provide more specific advice to particular questions www.sema.org.uk
SEMA Rack Safety Awareness Inspection Courses 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 aimed at professionals who conduct rack surveys as an integral and significant part of their duties.