Racking and Storage – Let the Buyer Beware

Investment in your warehouse space is huge and comes with a long-term commitment. In these days of ‘buyer beware’, end users can rest assured that SEMA members are stepping up to the plate with manufacturing based on quality, safety and reliability.

Setting up a warehouse can be a challenging task. To run profitably you need a storage solution that makes full use of your space, designed for the type, weight and handling of products and ensures efficient throughput. But did you also know that you have a legal obligation to ensure your racking is fit for purpose?

Minimise Risks

Fortunately, major incidents concerning racking equipment are rare, but they do happen. The consequences can be severe and the last thing your business needs is a HSE investigation discovering you have failed in due diligence! Company directors will be the ones held responsible and become liable for hefty fines and compensation claims – and that’s without even mentioning the cost to the lives affected by such an accident.

Under the HSE’s Construction Design & Management Regulations 2015, there is a legal obligation for you to check your racking supplier’s quality credentials, ensure they meet health and safety requirements and use trained labour.

This is where SEMA can help. As the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) we are a leading voice within the warehouse industry working towards improving safe working practices. It can be proven that by using SEMA members clearly demonstrates your commitment to creating a safe work environment. The racking system will be correctly designed, manufactured, installed and maintained to meet SEMA Standards, the requirements of your warehouse and longevity of product.

Design and Manufacture

With so many different types of racking available on the market, choosing the right system is not a decision to take lightly. A racking installation is a heavily loaded engineered product that must be carefully designed for its intended purpose.

When you buy from a SEMA Full Member you are buying reassurance. Each member is compelled to continuously engage in independent product design assessments. This guarantees that the product has been designed by a structural engineer to SEMA Codes. Its structural rigidity is calculated to meet precise criteria under specified conditions, to bear heavy loads and, once loaded, the rack or its components should not distort.

Supply

The SEMA Distributor Group is formed by like-minded companies from across the UK who are recognised for the high-quality storage equipment they supply. To become a member each company must demonstrate a high level of commitment to safety standards, and adhere to over 40 regulations, industry standards, Codes of Practice, and legislative requirements. SDG members form a multi-functional element of SEMA and as such we are fully supported by being part of the group.

SEMA Distributor Companies must submit and successfully pass an independent audit every three years. The initiative was the first scheme of its type for the industry and each certificate is clear proof to the customer that their new storage systems will be correctly designed using new products, are installed by trained and qualified teams to meet HSE standards and that the member is correctly insured.

Installation

It is a legal requirement that anyone working on your racking is ‘competent’. After all even the smallest change in its design can affect its structural integrity and it is not sufficient to assume they are working safely otherwise you are breaking the law.

Do you know if the installer has used the correct number and type of floor fixings, that the racking is sufficiently shimmed and that all fixings are positioned and tightened to manufacturers’ tolerances?

SEMA Approved Installation Companies or SAIC is an initiative for installation companies who are keen to develop safety standards and take a proactive approach within the industry. They must manage installation projects to SEMA’s QA standards, maintain correct procedures and retain formal documentation. Like SDC’s they must submit to an independent audit which will evaluates a SAIC’s management system and how they manage installers, their licences, qualifications, training and workmanship.

Maintenance and repair

Once your racking has been installed, it needs to be maintained. Racking systems qualify as work equipment and, under PUWER, it is your responsibility to ensure they are in good working order, maintained and inspected correctly.

Racking inspections are required to prevent and minimise the effects of accidents and SEMA advocates implementing a tiered system. On a daily basis, employees should be aware of what to look for in terms of damage and follow correct reporting procedures. A weekly inspection should be performed by a nominated person within the company who has been suitably trained and has the authority to implement action.  SEMA’s Rack Safety Awareness course provides delegates with advice and guidance to enable them to carry out basic rack inspections in accordance with SEMA guidelines.

More rigorous bi-annual or annual inspection should also be implemented and the HSE recommends using a SEMA Approved Racking Inspector (SARI) who is trained and continually assessed to industry standards. They offer competent third-party inspection backed up by an independent report. A SARI’s report identifies and priorities risks to help you manage workplace safety.

In SEMA’s 50-year history, the phrase ‘Let The Buyer Beware’ has never been more appropriate. For peace of mind always use a SEMA member and ask to see a current Audit Certificate as proof of QA or visit the SEMA website at www.members.sema.org.uk

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