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Racking Inspection Guide

What are rack safety Inspections?

If you operate a warehouse or storage facility that uses racking, inspections are something that should be an integral part of your safety practices – not only because you want ensure the safety of your staff, but also because it’s the law.

If you purchase your racking from a member of SEMA (Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association), such as Apex, then you can be assured the materials used to make it will be of high quality and the manufacturing process will adhere to high safety standards. But as most racking is manufactured from relatively lightweight materials, even high-quality products can become subject to wear and tear over time from lift machinery, loadbearing and general warehouse conditions.

As such, the advice is that all storage racking should be inspected on a regular basis to ensure any safety concerns can be highlighted before they become problematic or potentially dangerous.

In this racking inspection guide we will provide information about HSE racking inspection regulations, the different levels of inspection, which persons are permitted to conduct inspections and how often you need to carry out a racking inspection. We’ll also provide further information about how you or your employees can learn more about racking safety, becoming a qualified SEMA inspector and how Apex Storage can help you with your inspection and training requirements.

What legislation means I have to have my racking inspected?

Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 you are required to ensure your pallet racking and shelving is regularly inspected for safety.

The latest Health and Safety guide HSG76 states that you should inspect racking regularly to make sure it is properly maintained and repaired and is safe to use. 

Identify damaged parts before they cause a problem

Forklift truck operations or incorrect storing of product for the type of racking can cause damage. Any damage caused to racking can lead to a loss of strength in the product. Consequently the load carrying capacity is reduced and this presents the risk of further damage or even collapse – which could be catastrophic for your business. Regularly inspecting your racking will help identify any components that have been broken, dislodged or removed before they become a problem.

Show customers, staff and trade bodies that you care about safety

Whether a customer, auditor or any other organisation outside your company, you need to be able to prove to external bodies that you take the safety of your employees seriously and take appropriate action to ensure a safe working environment if and when a problem arises. If you don’t, the reputation of your business will suffer. Being able to present proof of inspections and inspection procedures will enable you to build relationships of trust with your customers and employees, as well as showing trade bodies that you adhere to strict codes of practice and are upholding the reputation of your industry.

Keep your warehouse operations running smoothly

Monitoring your racking is an important contributing factor to the efficiency of your business operations. Regular inspections will help to ensure your racking is serviceable and fit for purpose – reducing the risk of downtime or storage space issues that could be caused by unserviceable racking.

Stay in line with SEMA guidelines

SEMA issue guidelines to ensure the safety of racking in workplaces across the UK. For your own peace of mind and the safety of your workplace it is vital you stay up to date with current guidelines and best practices. Making regular inspections of your racking will identify any areas in which you do not conform. Should you need to replace out of date, worn out or damaged equipment, always use a SEMA approved supplier like Apex Storage to ensure your new racking adheres to safety laws and practices.

Regular inspection in high activity areas

Not every warehouse is the same in size or frequency of use. Whilst all storage areas must adhere to the same legislation, there are some situations in which more frequent and rigorous inspection is crucial. For example, in warehouses where there is a lot of vehicle activity, safety inspections should be carried out more often. The more activity there is, the higher the risk of damage – and therefore the greater the need for inspections.

How often do you need a rack inspection?

You may think that if you have purchased your racking from a SEMA supplier within the last few years there’s no need for inspection. However this is not the case. To ensure that a racking installation continues to be serviceable and safe, the storage equipment should be inspected on a regular basis.

There are a variety of factors that affect exactly how regularly you will need to have your racking inspected for safety. These include the dimensions of your space and racking installation, the level of activity, type of operational equipment used, ambient conditions and the skill of the staff working in the warehouse.

It is the responsibility of a nominated PRRS (Person Responsible for Racking Safety) within your organisation to analyse these factors and determine the appropriate frequency of inspections.

Legally, you need to have your racking inspected on an annual basis. HSE documentation states that a technically competent person should carry out an ‘expert’ inspection at intervals of not more than 12 months and that a report should be submitted to the PRRS so that any concerns can be addressed. However you should make internal inspections of your racking on a far more regular basis between these annual checks.

Who can complete your annual racking inspection?

The HSE guidelines cite that a ‘technically competent person’ should carry out your annual racking inspection. This description can seem quite vague, and you may deem experienced personnel within your organisation to be more than ‘competent’.

In actual fact, the industry recognised standard for this definition is someone who has undergone training to obtain the specialist skills of a SEMA Approved Rack Inspector (SARI). This could be a trained specialist within your own organisation, a suitably qualified person from a racking supplier such as Apex Storage, or an independent SARI.

Your annual inspection must be carried out by a 'technically competent person' or a qualified SARI, however it is also recommended that you carry out your own internal inspections in the interim period.

What are the different Levels of Inspection?

The HSE racking inspection document outlines a levelled approach to rack safety inspection that you should follow when implementing procedures in your organisation.

Level 1 - Immediate reporting

You should have procedures in place for reporting any damage or defect to racking – so that if one of your employees notices a safety issue it can be immediately reported to the PRRS.

Make sure your employees are fully trained and instructed in the correct and safe operation of your racking system. This includes all parts of the installation that may affect their own safety and the safety of others.

Level 2 - Visual inspections

The HSE recommends that the PRRS inspects your racking systems at weekly or other regular intervals, taking into consideration the risk assessment carried out for your site. Your PRRS should keep a written log of all inspections made.

Level 3- ‘Expert’ inspections

As we’ve already stated, you need to ensure a ‘technically competent’ person inspects your racking at least once a year. The SARI inspecting your racking should provide a written report to the PRRS for your records.

Unless a problem has been identified at a high level, a normal inspection of your racking will take place at ground level. This is different in the case of automated and high-bay systems. Although these are less prone to damage at high level, the higher levels cannot be seen from the ground and will therefore require further inspection. For these systems, follow the inspection guidelines below:

  • The maintenance engineer who has day-to-day responsibility for the racking should have a written reporting system. This will ensure that the nature and severity any problems can be made aware to the PRRS.

  • Every 12 months an expert inspection should be carried out. HSE racking inspection guidelines state that this should consist of all standard pallet racking and a minimum of 20% of the installation for a crane operating pallet racking system, carried out on a rolling basis to ensure the full system has been inspected a minimum of every five years.

  • The PRRS should evaluate the problems raised by the inspection to identify if a more wide-ranging inspection is necessary. If there is any doubt regarding the integrity of the racking system, the manufacturer should be contacted for advice.

During assessment, the 'technically competent person' / SEMA racking inspector will categorise damage into one of three levels:

Green level indicates that the racking system is considered to be safe and serviceable. The racking does not need immediate repair and can be used as per its normal load carrying capacity. However, the racking should be flagged for further checks at the next inspection and should be monitored continuously.

Amber level means that part of the racking installation is damaged, has become hazardous and needs immediate attention. Although it is not necessary to offload the whole system, load should be removed from the damage part so that repairs can be carried out. You should have a system in place to identify the damaged area so that it is not used until the repair has been made. If the damage isn’t fixed within four weeks, it is escalated to a red risk.

A red risk means that very serious damage has occurred and action must be taken straight away. In these critical situations, all racking in the affected area must be unloaded and isolated from further use until repairs have taken place. Again, you must make it clear that the affected racking is not to be used or the area accessed by any unauthorised personnel until it has been repaired and confirmed safe.

Racking Inspection Checklist

We’ve put together this quick checklist to help keep your workplace safe. Of course, it’s always best to stay up to date with the latest racking inspection regulations. If you are unsure, ask a SEMA qualified expert such as our training and inspection team at Apex Storage.

  • Have your racking inspected at least once a year by a SARI

  • Carry out internal inspections at weekly or regular intervals in the interim

  • Report damage or defects as soon as they are noticed

  • Do not use damaged or unserviceable racking until it has been fixed or replaced

  • Always ensure you purchase your racking from a SEMA approved supplier

  • Ensure your employees are trained in the safe and correct use of the racking system installed

  • Appoint a Person Responsible for Racking Safety within your organisation

  • Keep a record of inspections, damage and repairs in a logbook.

  • Ensure you assess the specific factors in your workplace and adjust the frequency of inspections accordingly

  • Attend a course on racking safety inspection or encourage employees to attend

  • Where possible use mechanical handling devices to place and retrieve stock from racking

How can Apex Storage help you?

As with all areas of safety in the workplace, it is important to keep your whole team’s knowledge of racking safety up to date. Apex Storage provides on site racking inspection training from some of the longest serving and most technically competent trainers in the industry, with very competitive rates. We can tailor your training session to suit the size and needs of your business. Contact us to find out more about how we can help fill any knowledge gaps in your workforce.

Apex Storage can also provide your annual racking inspection. We provide a professional pallet racking inspection service from one of our team who have completed the SEMA approved inspector qualification.

In the event that an issue is identified with your racking, we provide very competitive rates for racking repairs. As a SEMA approved supplier we can also help you source replacements for any failing or out of date racking equipment.

For further information on racking inspection guidelines, SEMA approved racking inspectors or racking inspection training, speak to our team on 0800 118 2937