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Pallet racking safety: What are the Health & Safety issues?

Article added Monday June 25th, 2012

Once you have bought your Pallet Racking and had it installed by specialists, you may be forgiven for thinking that is all you need to do, and that your warehouse storage installation will not need any further attention. However, wear and tear affects pallet racking as it does most types of equipment in the workplace. Over time the nuts and bolts that are used in assembly may work loose, in which case your pallet racking structure may become unsafe. Damage to the posts supporting the pallet racking may be caused when a fork truck accidentally strikes it. This can cause the structural soundness of the post to be compromised, and thus increase the possibility of the collapse of the installation. The possibility of damage or injury to people caused by these types of events necessitates a strict regime of prevention, inspection and repair.

UK Health & Safety legislation applies to this pallet racking, which is classified as “work equipment”, and in the interests of your business, and all the people working in your warehouse, you need to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to ensure a safe working environment. A few tips may help.

SEMA (Storage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association) is an organisation that exists to promote the correct design, installation and use of any storage equipment that is manufactured by its members. An inspection of your warehouse racking by an inspector who has been trained in SEMA standards and requirements will ensure that:

  • Your installation meets the requirements of the current Health and Safety Regulations
  • Your installation meets the requirements of the SEMA Codes and Guidelines.
  • Any unsafe components are identified.
  • Any risk of damage to storage installations by mechanical handling equipment is identified.
  • Any potential risks of injury to personnel caused by the continuous use of damaged racking are identified.

Once you have had your warehouse storage racking installed, you should arrange for an independent initial inspection to be carried out by experts. This will ensure that any problems are identified straight away, so that they can be rectified. If any repairs or preventative measures are needed, make sure that they are carried out to SEMA standards. Once any problems have been dealt with, or if the inspection reveals no problems, you can be confident that your pallet racking conforms to official requirements.

In the interests of efficiency and safety, you need to introduce and apply a set of rules that impose best practice on the people who enter your warehouse, and also specify the repercussions of non-compliance. You will probably need to reinforce this code of behaviour by posting notices in appropriate places in the warehouse.

Make sure that the quality of the lighting in your warehouse is up to the standard required to maintain a good working environment. A poorly lit warehouse can be an extremely dangerous place.

The mechanical lifting equipment (fork trucks, hoists etc) used in conjunction with your pallet racking needs to be regularly maintained and inspected, to ensure its efficient operation.

Your warehouse racking needs to be inspected on a regular basis. Many companies do this monthly, often with the inspection being carried out by a trained member of staff. These inspections should help you to make sure that any problems are dealt with quickly and the danger of accident is minimised. Log all the inspections in a designated document, so that over time a complete record is available of when and by whom the inspection was carried out, and the results of the inspection. Details of any maintenance work carried out should also be logged. This log can be used as evidence of good practice when you are dealing with your insurance company, or when a Health & Safety inspector visits you.

Although internal staff can carry out pallet racking inspections, the benefits of inspection by an independent qualified inspector are obvious, so this is the preferred course. If internal inspectors are used you should definitely obtain an independent inspection at least once every twelve months.

These are just a few of the points you need to cover in ensuring that your warehouse is as safe as possible. There are costs attached to all these things, but we all have an interest in providing a safe and efficient working environment, and the costs involved are small compared to the potential costs of operating an unsafe storage warehouse.

Here at Pallet Racking Systems we are always happy to offer you the benefit of our expertise in dealing with the Health & Safety issues involved in pallet racking installations.