Case study

Is your pallet racking inspection overdue?

Every warehouse operative and manager can appreciate the risks posed by the constant movement of goods and heavy handling equipment in close proximity to tall storage structures. It’s these precise risks that make an annual racking inspection mandatory however this year has been like no other. Since March businesses have been facing an unprecedented situation in the form of the Covid19 pandemic and this has caused immediate disruption and long term change to their operations. As businesses work to recoup and persist the warehouses of our nation have been taking steps to respond to changing demands whilst ensuring the health and safety of employees through the introduction of new safety measures. Although unintentional, the annual racking inspection may have been demoted in the list of priorities as a result.

The obligation of rack inspections comes from the legal requirement as outlined by the HSE to assess and maintain equipment in all work environments in accordance to PUWER (Provisions and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) so in the warehouse, this would include pallet racking, warehouse shelving and mezzanine floors.

The HSE offer warehouse safety guidance and when followed, the likely hood of a safe warehouse by law is much higher. In relation to rack safety the HSE advises that:

  • ­­In-house visual inspections are carried out at regular intervals – Invest in rack safety training to enable your employees to carry out periodic rack safety checks. Knowing how and where to look will allow your staff the ability to spot both obvious and non obvious weaknesses resulting in early action.
  • Potential damage or weaknesses must be reported without delay – Even the slightest damage has the potential to pose a high safety risk, which is why any damage of any kind should be reported immediately.
  • Periodic inspections are carried out by an accomplished pallet racking inspector – An expert pallet rack inspector will carry out a thorough examination, with the completion documented along with the highlight of any faults and advisories. The recommendation is to carry out an expert pallet racking inspection annually.

The issue with delayed pallet racking inspections

Unlike the law which states that a motor vehicle must undergo an MOT every twelve months, there is no law stating a pallet racking inspection must be carried out annually, however there is a legal requirement to ensure warehouse safety. So if your last pallet racking inspection was carried out more than a year ago, there’s no guarantee that your racking is still safe and this means that by law the warehouse is potentially unsafe.

A pallet racking system is designed to bear seriously heavy weights in the form of multiple fully loaded pallets so as you could imagine, a collapse could cause very serious or even fatal injuries. If an unnoticed gradual decline in your pallet racking structure was to cause an accident during the time frame of an overdue rack inspection, the impact could be catastrophic for all involved, including the business.

 

What does a pallet racking inspection by WSL entail?

A pallet racking inspection is a systematic process that ensures every component is thoroughly examined. At WSL your inspection is carried out by one of our longest serving employees and our longest serving rack inspector. For almost 20 years Yannis has been solely committed ensuring the safety of our client’s storage structures including all types of warehouse racking structures, shelving and mezzanine floors. Known for his detailed approach, Yannis carries out his visual inspections aisle by aisle, row by row and part by part. Following SEMA guidelines, Yannis determines the severity of risk by referring to the SEMA signal light system:

Red Alert– Racks must be offloaded immediately and remain out of use until repairs have been carried out.

Amber Alert–Rack damage must be repaired within four weeks and no reloading until this has been completed. If no repairs have been carried out within the four week timeframe, the damage will be moved to red alertand the racks must be offloaded and isolated until repaired

Green Alert – Damage is recorded and must be closely monitored over the coming year and will be re-examined in detail at the next scheduled rack inspection.

If any immediate or particularly high risk issues are recorded Yannis will alert you immediately so appropriate action can be taken. All repairs must be carried out to the SEMA Code of Practice using SEMA approved replacement parts

On his return from your site, Yannis will write his findings in a detailed report which will be sent too you, highlighting any safety issues if found and advise on how to fix those issues. Seven weeks before your next inspection is due, we will send you a reminder so you’re sure not to forget.

 

What can I do to minimise the risk of damage to my racking structure?

The most common cause of damage to pallet racking is the knocks and bump it can receive from moving fork lift trucks. It’s common for even the most careful operator to accidentally collide with the racking structure. The fork lift truck is a heavy piece of equipment and although pallet racking is made of heavy duty steel, damage can occur. The effects may not be seen straight away however, a weakness in the structure caused by a hard knock can eventually give way after weakening over a period of time. If the same area is prone to being knocked this will intensify the damage and weaken the structure at a much faster pace.

Barriers and bump stops will help safeguard your warehouse because they are designed to be the first in line to take the impact of collision. Placed in front of the end frames and around the uprights, the structure is guarded and the risk of damage to the structure is greatly reduced. The implementation of guide rails is a great way of ensuring that forklift trucks are kept a safe distance from the structure when navigating the aisles. These are particularly useful where aisles between the racks are particularly narrow.

Does my mezzanine floor require regular safety inspections?

A mezzanine floor is equipment used by employees therefore under the PUWER guidelines it must be safe. Although the semi permanent structure is extremely robust an inspection every 24 months is recommended. Like pallet racking, moving handling equipment can collide with the steel columns that hold the mezzanine platform in place. WSL offer inspections on all storage structures and equipment including mezzanine floors so if you have warehouse racking and a warehouse mezzanine floor  we can inspect both during the same visit.

How much does a pallet racking inspection cost?

A pallet racking inspection is priced by the size, type, location and quantity. To find out how much your pallet racking inspection would cost, contact our rack inspection co-ordinator by emailing reception@wslmail.co.uk or calling 0113 2045350

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