warehouse safety - inspection

Improved warehouse safety – make your racking a priority task

Safety has to be a priority in any warehouse. They are busy environments. Heavy stock is moving around and you must protect employees while working in the space. However, over recent years with the fast growth in e-commerce, pressures have increased within the warehouse. With a drive for additional storage capacity and faster throughput of stock, are you remembering to maintain warehouse safety?

In the warehouse, the main focus areas for safety are slips and falls, manual handling and keeping your employees safe around moving vehicles. The challenge, especially as our warehouse spaces get busier, is how to minimise the risks. This is where your racking comes into play. Get the design of your storage equipment right, take the correct measures on maintenance and training and it will address many of your safety issues.

Here is our checklist of key points to consider to maximise pallet racking safety.

warehouse safety - pallet racking safety

Warehouse Safety – roles and responsibilities

Before we look at how your pallet racking can make a warehouse safe, you first need to understand your responsibilities towards warehouse safety. Fortunately, serious incidents around racking are rare, but they can and do still happen. This is why there are several regulations and guidance documents in place that any business owner must follow to meet their health and safety requirements. These are:

In addition to these, there are three regulations and guidance documents which specifically relate to increasing warehouse safety. These also cover safety in the design, installation and use of your pallet racking equipment.

Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) sets out the legal duties of everyone involved in a construction project. Although you may not realise it, large pallet-racking projects fall under the category of construction work. CDM 2015 requires the client (anyone who has construction work carried out for them) to make sure their project is suitably managed and upholds the health and safety of anyone involved.

In conjunction with industry unions, associations and employer bodies, HSE produces HSG76 Warehousing and Storage: A Guide to Health and Safety. The document offers advice to warehouse owners in increasing safety and covers general health, safety and welfare, materials handling and storage.

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, 1998 places the responsibility on employers to uphold safety for their employees by ensuring the work equipment they use is in good working order. The regulations include pallet racking and other storage equipment.

Increase Pallet Racking Safety

Making sure your racking equipment and warehouse space meet industry regulations is essential. However, in an industry with so many different suppliers, knowing who to work with can be a challenge. How do you know they have chosen the right system for your warehouse? Does the design increase warehouse safety standards? Will the structure meet its intended purpose? Are they meeting all the regulations?

Checking the credentials of your suppliers can take a lot of time, especially if you’re not a racking expert! One place to start is by contacting SEMA, a leading voice in the storage equipment industry. Their guidance works through the design, supply, installation, use and maintenance of storage equipment.

To help warehouse owners even further they also work with leading industry suppliers to create a network of approved members. Work with a SEMA Distributor Company such as Teepee and you know they undergo independent audits to ensure they meet all the industry requirements and standards. This provides clear proof to warehouse owners that their new storage system will be correctly designed using new products that are installed by trained and qualified teams to meet HSE standards and that the member is correctly insured. It will save you a lot of time and effort making sure you tick all the health and safety boxes!

warehouse safety - loading

Prioritising pallet racking safety

One of the advantages of working with a SEMA Distributor Company is that you know they are benefitting from the technical expertise available through the group. That means we are kept up to date on the latest industry regulations, technical requirements and design guidance.

To enhance your warehouse safety, we will make sure that your racking considers the following:

  1. Safe working spaces
    Keeping your employees safe when working in areas with pallet racking has a lot to do with the layout of the equipment. Of course, optimising the racking must address how to increase storage capacity, processing order timescales and productivity. But good design and layout will also help reduce accidents, keep your employees safe from moving vehicles and minimise the risk of slips or trips. This includes creating clear pathways, designated loading and unloading zones, and ensuring stock is accessed safely.
  2. Moving vehicles
    In the modern warehouse, you will inevitably see some form of vehicle moving around the space. Forklift trucks are the most common but, with the increase in automation and robotics, the requirements are changing. However, with warehouse workers also using the space there needs to be constant management to prevent accidents. Traffic routes around the racking should allow pedestrians to see the vehicles and drivers to operate safely. Where possible, employees should be kept separate from the vehicles.
  3. Racking designed for stock profiles and picking methods
    As warehouse spaces become larger, so too do the size and height of the racking structures. It is not unusual for workers to work above floor level on mezzanine or multi-tier structures or through the use of forklift trucks. Keeping everyone safe on the shop floor requires a design that includes enough space between the beams for the picking methods, equipment used and stock profiles. The racking aisles must also accommodate safe access to goods, use correct racking protection products and incorporate the moving space of fork-lift trucks and robotics.
  4. Pallet racking – weight limits
    The design of your racking includes limits on the weight the structure can hold and how to load it correctly. The precise details can be different for each bay or racking run depending on the stock you carry. Important guidance when you consider that, in its simplest form, your racking is a basic metal frame. Ignore the weight-carrying specifications and it can lead to a potential failure of the racking. You can’t expect everyone to remember the different weight-carrying capacities which is why your employees need to pay attention to the Load Notice. This key warehouse safety sign clearly shows the correct loading and weight procedures for the structure.
  5. Pallet racking safety equipment
    If you have the optimal design for your racking it should keep everyone safe. However, it can only meet its intended purpose if everything is working correctly. Your supplier should also build in safety equipment that protects the racking from damage including rack guards and post protectors. Finally, for correct installation of the structure you must use a SEIRS installer who has trained to meet SEMA and industry standards. That way you will know pallet racking safety pins are correctly securing beams in place. Locks are in place to ensure adjustments are not be made by unauthorised members.

warehouse safety - rack protectors

Improving Safety

The racking is in place and stock is moving through the space seamlessly. Stock efficiency has increased to minimise order timescales and increase your profitability.

Now the biggest challenge – how to keep it all working correctly!

The answer lies in equipping your employees with the knowledge of how to work in areas with racking. It may seem easy to dismiss racking training as an unnecessary step, but it does provide you with two clear advantages. First, and perhaps most importantly, it will keep your employees safe. Second of all, it will help to maximise the lifespan of your racking (which is ideal for maximising the ROI).

That is why we run our Rack Inspection Training. The course equips your employees with the skills and knowledge they need to work safely in areas where racking is present. It also provides them with the tools they need to recognise damage on racking. After all, the sooner damaged racking is reported, the sooner it can be fixed and the safer everyone stays. Finally, our course will help you in meeting your PUWER responsibilities by training a member of your team to perform the HSE and SEMA recommended weekly inspection.

warehouse safety - inspection

Ongoing Warehouse Safety

The final step is to ensure your racking keeps everyone safe for as long as possible. You can only achieve this if the structure is subject to an Expert inspection at least once a year. This inspection must be undertaken by a professional with the correct qualifications. Their role is to conduct racking and storage assessment reports on the racking and recommend if repair work is required.

Ideally, you want an approved racking inspector who uses a traffic light reporting system according to SEMA guidelines. Their report will indicate where damage is present and action requirements over what timescale.

  • Green areas indicate where damage falls within SEMA limits and is considered safe and suitable for use, but it will need reviewing at the next inspection.
  • Amber shows where the damage is severe enough to require remedial work, but you don’t need to offload the racking immediately. As pallet positions empty, you must not refill the area. Repairs not completed within four weeks automatically become a red risk.
  • Red risk areas indicates a dangerious level of damage and the racking requires immediate offloading. At this stage, you must isolate the racking and not use it until the repair work is complete.

If you need an expert inspection, get in touch with Teepee and we can arrange for one of our fully qualified and insured racking inspectors to visit your site. They will produce an electronic report that adheres to SEMA inspection guidelines. The report will detail specifications, conditions, damage list by location and photographic evidence for remedial works by your approved supplier.

Need help in upholding warehouse safety?

At Teepee, we’re more than just creating and delivering the perfect storage solution. We place safety and high standards at the forefront of every racking design and installation we fulfil.

If you’ve got a warehouse storage project planned, why not contact Teepee? Our experience within the racking and warehouse industry means that we can help deliver a project that promises safety, quality and reliability throughout the lifetime of your racking.

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