Pallet racking inspections: why are they important?

One of the most common questions we are asked by customers is “Does racking have to be inspected?” From a health and safety point of view the answer is always yes. It ensures your staff and goods are safeguarded as much as possible. Your storage systems are one of the most important parts of your supply infrastructure. Inspections enable you to maximise their lifespan.

At 2h Storage Solutions we carry out safety inspections in warehouses both large and small and here we cover some of the basics about inspections and the key areas you need to be aware of.

Is racking inspection a legal requirement?

You are not legally required to carry out a racking inspection. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend in HSG76 that you use a Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) approved inspector at least once a year, along with weekly inspections carried out by a “technically competent” member of staff.

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations state that the onus is on the warehouse owner to ensure the safety of their employees. So, while you are not legally obliged to carry out racking inspections, warehouse owners are legally required to comply with the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Conducting regular pallet racking inspections is the best way to ensure your racking is safe for your employees, while also helping your business to comply with Work Equipment Regulations 5 & 6 1998. You will be able to identify any issues in their early stages and carry out essential repairs when needed. This will reduce further damage occurring and lower maintenance costs, which enables your business to invest funds elsewhere.

Just as importantly, ensuring there are regular inspections enables you to provide insurance companies with relevant documentation. This demonstrates you are complying with industry standard and doing everything possible to maintain the highest safety standards.

2h Storage Solutions offer a full pallet racking inspection service which is conducted by trained and approved inspectors. We’ll provide full documentation of our visit on the same day and also recommend cost saving and damage management products that will minimise the risk of damage and could also save your business money.

What are SEMA pallet racking inspections?

SEMA is the trade organisation for storage equipment in the UK who advise the HSE and the public about storage equipment safety. They represent the industry at a government level, consulting with ministers about new and current storage equipment laws and speaking on behalf of the sector on various issues.

The body run the Approved Racking Inspector (SARI) scheme.  Providing training to persons with either a health and safety or engineering background to become an approved inspector. This means that companies offering SEMA pallet racking inspections have received the highest level of training, ensuring your systems are being checked by competent and experienced industry professionals.

How often are pallet racking inspections needed?

In most instances, the first pallet racking inspection takes place 6 months after installation, with subsequent inspections occurring every 12 months. However, the inspection frequency depends on a variety of different factors.

HSE also recommend that pallet racking inspections are conducted at least every 12 months. A nominated Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) carrying out smaller, regular checks. The PRRS should have specific pallet racking inspection training and no assumptions should be made that anyone inspecting, repairing or installing your racking has the relevant qualifications. You need to be certain that the person carrying out these tasks is qualified enough to do so.

If you are unsure about the safety of your pallet racking system, even if you have had an inspection within the previous 12 months, you should organise one as soon as possible to avoid putting staff or your products at further risk.

Are there any pallet racking inspection regulations?

You’ll find pallet racking inspection requirements laid out in the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974, Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The Health and Safety at Work Act states:

“All adjustable pallet racking fall under the category of work equipment, which must be maintained and inspected on a regular basis.”

In summary, there are three types of inspection that should be carried out:

  • Immediate reporting of any damage or defects when they are identified
  • Visual inspections that are conducted on a regular basis
  • Inspections carried out by trained and qualified experts (at least once a year)

If the safety of the racking system is compromised due to damage, you should offload the racking.  Then introduce controls that prevent it from being used until repairs or replacements are available. A clear record of all inspections and repairs should be kept in a logbook and updated as required.

What happens during an inspection?

When a customer uses our inspection services, we provide a qualified SEMA inspector. The inspector will arrive at your facility and conduct a systematic review of the system. Most inspections are conducted at ground level, although a high-level inspection can be carried out with the aid of lifting equipment.

During the inspection, beams and uprights on each aisle will be closely inspected, looking for any dents, bends or buckles that could result in damage or the weakening of the racking. Other risks will also be evaluated, such as incorrectly stored pallets or debris that has been left on the floor.

The length of time it takes to complete an inspection varies. This depends on the size of the warehouse and the condition of the racking systems. We work with businesses to plan a suitable time and date to carry out an inspection. This will minimise disruption and we will aim to complete a thorough check as quickly as possible.

Once the inspection is completed, on the same day we will provide you with a detailed report. The report will highlight non-critical and critical risks. This documentation can be supplied to insurance companies shown to health and safety inspectors, should that become a requirement.