Storage Under Scrutiny

The UK wide lockdown in the first half of 2020 has resulted in a significant change for the warehouse industry. With the high street effectively closed many consumers moved towards buying online. Statistics show that sales in ecommerce grew significantly with online sales in April up by more than 50% compared to last year.

As the growth in ecommerce continues this has seen a significant demand for new and additional warehousing, SEMA explains how to properly maintain your storage racking and keep it in good working order.

SEMA’s Rack Inspection Regime

Rack collapses in the warehouse can and do happen, potentially causing severe injuries and even fatalities. SEMA recommend a rigorous approach to rack inspections to perform three essential functions. Firstly, to provide a safe place of work by making sure equipment meets PUWER and Health and Safety at Work Act regulations. Secondly to check the condition of equipment and identify corrective work that might be required. Lastly a rack inspection will verify that the equipment has been installed correctly.

How to manage rack safety

The end-user needs to appoint a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) who is suitably qualified and experienced. Their job is to take responsibility for the safe operation of storage systems, maintain rack inspections and keep maintenance records. They should implement a risk assessment and method statement for racking and storage inspection. 

Remember! Inspection is not a substitute for deficient, defective or absent specification, design, installation, training, operation or maintenance. It is important to realise that inspection alone does not solve the problem and it is only the first link in the chain. If an inspection identifies issues the affected areas should be taken out of use so that the necessary maintenance action can be undertaken to solve the issue.

SEMA’s in-situ safety regime

SEMA adopts an “onion skin approach to rack inspection” consisting of three layers of overlapping inspection namely; immediate (used to be called the daily) inspection, the regular (used to be called the weekly) inspection and the “expert” (annual) inspection.

  • Immediate Inspections require the reporting of all damage and areas of concern to the PRRS. Warehouse staff are often in the best position to see if a racking has been damaged and they should be encouraged to report damage immediately. Reporting should follow a documented procedure with records kept on the action taken to address the issues.
  • Regular Inspections – the PRRS should ensure regular inspections are undertaken and documented by a suitably trained individual. Frequency should be weekly or at other intervals based on a risk assessment of the operating conditions of the warehouse. 
  • Expert (Annual) Inspection should be carried out by a technically trained and competent person i.e. SEMA Approved Rack Inspector (SARI), a trained specialist within the organisation or a specialist from the rack supplier. Frequency depends upon risk assessment but is usually performed annually. A documented report will identify damage and give guidance and comment on other warehouse activities.

Full SARI inspection

A damage only inspection provides a list of damaged items and their location. It’s OK as far as it goes whereas a full SARI report, offers far more. It will check immediate and regular scrutiny is being carried out; check rack configuration, type and manufacturer and a general identification of components including a check of the accuracy of load notices. It also will identify repetitive damage and propose future solutions/modifications. Vitally, it will notify of any Red Risks present as classified by SEMA’s unique traffic light risk categories.

Load Notices

An in-house regular inspection should also check to make sure that loading on a Load Notice is being correctly observed, meeting any dimensional data given and that the Load Notice specifically applies to the rack that its fixed to, often a problem if racking is moved or altered.


For ‘Regular’ inspections, SEMA recommends that in-house staff attend our Rack Safety Awareness course which covers; responsibilities, what to measure, explanation of the load notice, inspection equipment, practical examples of damage categorisation and damage prevention. SEMA’s Approved Inspector qualification comprises an intensive three-day training course and the successful completion of both a written examination and practical assessment. The inspector must also commit to a programme of on-going CPD (Continuous Professional Development) to maintain the qualification.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *