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Is pallet racking inspection really necessary?

Article added Tuesday September 25th, 2012

There are a number of reasons why pallet racking inspection is a very important aspect of any business that uses a warehouse to store goods, but basically they all come down to a single objective – to provide as safe a working environment as possible for ourselves, the people who work for us, and other people who may from time to time have occasion to be in our warehouse.

Warehouses may look fairly harmless places, but they can easily become dangerous places to be. For instance, if an installation is damaged and thus the structure becomes weakened, a simple incident such as a fork truck collision can have catastrophic effects. The collapse of a section of pallet racking can pose a severe threat of personal injury.

It is with this in mind that in the UK we have Health & Safety legislation that lays down practices to protect the safety of our working environment. This includes pallet racking under the general heading of Working Equipment, stating that warehouse pallet racking installations should be maintained in good working order, and subjected to regular pallet racking inspections. The rules do not state how frequently and to what standards such inspections should take place, but there are accredited industry organisations that offer good practice guidelines to help us on these matters.

Perhaps the most prominent of these bodies is the Storage Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (SEMA) – the British trade association for the storage equipment industry. SEMA’s code of practice for the manufacture, installation and design of warehouse racking is widely accepted as the industry standard.

The warehouse owner needs to have a two pronged approach to pallet racking inspection – internal inspection and external inspection. We need to ensure that nominated employees are trained to the required standard in the inspection of their pallet racking installation. These employees also need to be able to recognise problems as they arise and organise the necessary remedial work, as well as dealing capably with any problems that are reported to them.

These inspections will need to be documented by means of a report, and a process must exist to ensure that any faults found are rectified to the appropriate standard.

There are a number of firms around the country who can provide professional training to SEMA standards to ensure that your employees are equipped with the knowledge they need to be able to fulfil this very responsible role.

A timetable for internal pallet racking inspections will need to be established, and the trainer will be able to advise you on this.

As regards external pallet racking inspection, there are a number of businesses that provide this service, and it is highly likely that you can use the same firm to carry out both your training and external inspection. If you make sure that they operate to SEMA standards you should be able to have confidence in the service that they supply. They will issue a report of their findings at the end of each visit, and it is important that this is acted upon.

The external inspector will advise you of any measures and working practices that you need to introduce to ensure a safe working environment, and also about the frequency of inspections necessary. This will vary from one business to another, depending on the particular characteristics of the warehouse pallet racking installation.

Of course, all this comes at a financial cost to the business, and no business likes to increase its costs unnecessarily. However, when you take into account the potential cost of not doing these things, both in terms of financial and physical damage, you may come to the conclusion that the extra cost of good practice is money well spent.

If you would like advice on the safety and inspection aspects of your warehouse pallet racking installation, Pallet Racking Systems Ltd will be pleased to help you.