Nick Betteley, technical director at Stakapal, is a SEMA Approved Racking Inspector (SARI) – he offers his advice on making sure your storage racking remains safe and fit for purpose.

Stakapal have over 55 years’ experience manufacturing storage solutions for the furniture and joinery industry. As Full SEMA (Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association) members, we play a very proactive role in the development of standards for the storage industry in the UK.

Did you know that your racking also plays a critical role in keeping your employees safe? After all racking has the potential to cause serious damage to people and property. Some of the common storage problems include racking not levelled properly, items loaded incorrectly for the storage design, overhang of goods and uneven load distribution or not implementing a regular inspection routine to identify any damage to your racks.

Safety in racking design

The overall safety of your racking systems begins with the design and manufacturing process. Careful consideration should be given to the range of products you are storing, the required loading capacities plus relevant lengths and dimensions.

What type of mechanical equipment such as forklift trucks are you using? Are there adequate aisle widths to provide a safe working environment? For all areas of your site including handloaded pedestrian areas, how will your staff interact with the system?

Safety in installation

Once your design has been finalised you also need to consider the integrity of the installation process. Even the smallest change in its original design configuration and non-adherence to installation tolerances can affect the structural integrity of the racking. That is why it is a legal requirement, under the HSE’s Construction Design & Management Regulations 2015, for business owners to check the installers credentials.

Installation of racking is a skilled job and should only be carried out by experienced and qualified installers who assemble to the manufacturer’s specification. Stakapals’ in-house teams, are registered and put through SEIRS (Storage Equipment Installers Registration Scheme) which is a unique initiative from SEMA that aims to raise safety standards at the point of installation.

Safety in signage

It is a legal obligation for each racking structure to have a Load Notice securely and clearly visible. The Load Notice is a key safety item that should be supplied by your provider to ensure your racking complies with PUWER regulations. It is one of the first things any HSE inspector will check when visiting your site.

Safety in maintenance

Staff should be encouraged to immediately report any damage they see so that it can be assessed. Visual inspections should be conducted on a regular basis (usually weekly) which can be undertaken by a member of staff who has received appropriate training. They will check that loading is specified according to the load notice, ensure correct usage of the racking is being followed and identify if there are any missing or damaged components.

Inspections must be properly documented with any issues acted on immediately. Where you find damage that affects the safety of the racking system, offload the racking and introduce controls to prevent it being used until remedial work has been carried out.

Annual inspections

You need to engage a trained inspector to undertake an Expert Inspection on an annual basis. A SEMA (Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association) approved racking inspector (SARI) satisfies the HSE’s criteria for a technically competent person to carry out an annual inspection as per HSG76 guidance.

Following the installation of our racking our own in-house SARI’s offer this facility to our customers on an annual basis. We visit each site to undertake a comprehensive inspection and prepare a detailed damage report which will highlight issues and a recommended timescale for corrective action.

Our in-house design and project teams provide a concept to completion service from initial site survey through to design, manufacture and finally installation.