Safety is a priority in warehouses, especially when using storage racks.
Meeting the high demand
According to a report by Lambert Smith Hampton, a property consultant, there is a high demand for warehouse space in the UK, and demand could exceed supply by 2020. Part of the reason for this growth is the rise of online orders. Many high street retailers like Jules and Crew Clothing are faced with financial challenges at their retail stores, so are expanding their online operations, and that means adding extra warehouse space to store more stock.
Warehouses running out of space to store goods are having to reorganise. One way to gain extra space is to construct mezzanines or add extra racking to reach the roof. The higher the racking goes, however, the greater the danger from falling objects.
A warehouse can be a safe place to work provided there are adequate health and safety procedures. Warehouse storage rack suppliers are helping expansions by supplying the premium quality racks warehouses need.
Safety of storage equipment is a vital part of any business. All storage equipment has to be regularly inspected. This is a legal requirement, but is also in the interests of worker safety.
The warehouse storage racks supplier is responsible for making sure its racks are made to carry the loads for which they are being used. They will specify the maximum load weight to safely support items stored on them and this should not be exceeded.
The racks need to be installed correctly and regularly inspected by an independent inspector, who will make sure that all racks conform to current safety legislation. The inspector should be officially approved by the Storage Equipment Manufacture’s Association (SEMA) and carry the SEMA approved inspector logo on their business stationery and website.
An independent inspector will have no business ties with the warehouse storage racks supplier.
The HSE guidelines
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a government department responsible for everything to do with health and safety. The HSE has issued guidelines for racking safety in an easy-to-read form. Not everything in the guidelines is legally binding, but if they are not followed and a worker is injured as a result, the neglect of the guidelines could form part of a prosecution brought by the HSE.
The guidelines say that it is the warehouse owner’s responsibility to make sure that everyone working with racking is “competent” and has had adequate safety training.
Planning the organisation of storage racks should have two main aims, to make locating and picking items efficient, and to make sure the racks are safe. Racks should not be placed on uneven surfaces or arranged in ways that make moving warehouse trolleys in aisles difficult. Corners need to be manoeuvrable and aisles wide enough for trolleys or forklifts.
Safety and risk assessment
The HSE recommends that all installers of warehouse racking should have undergone safety training by SEMA.
There should be written safety procedures documented, which must include instructions about not overloading racks and workers not climbing in them to reach awkwardly stored goods. Safety posts or barriers prevent vehicles and manual handling equipment hitting the racks.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 specifies that all work equipment has to be regularly inspected, and this equipment includes storage racks.
The HSE recommends that inspections should not be limited to the required ones by an independent inspector. An employee, or team of employees at large warehouses, should also inspect the racks regularly. Ideally, these workers should attend a short course on rack safety inspections by SEMA.
All warehouse owners are responsible for making sure that risk assessments are carried out for all warehouse operations. This includes the safe operation of manual handling equipment, safety in the packing areas and the use of storage racks.
Safety training is important for all employees. SEMA runs a one-day Rack Safety Awareness and Inspection Course for relevant employees to attend. SEMA is also available to answer technical queries about racking and racking safety, and has a free code of practice for static racking systems that businesses may find useful.
After Britain leaves the European Union, the UK will no longer be subject to EU safety regulations, but warehouse owners will still need to follow the HSE guidelines. Much of the guidelines are based on EU racking regulations and it is not expected that the guidelines will significantly change after Brexit, irrespective of whether Britain leaves with a deal or not.
The Great Britain Repeat Bill is designed to copy much of EU law to British law. Some aspects of EU law, such as those affecting the Irish border, may not be copied over, but EU racking regulations are likely to be copied to British law.
The duties of the warehouse storage rack supplier
If you use a warehouse storage rack supplier who is also the rack manufacturer, they should design and construct racks that meet or exceed SEMA’s code of practice for designing and building warehouse racks. These racks will be safe to use provided they are regularly inspected and all workers have received safety training.
If equipping a new warehouse or reorganising an existing one, the warehouse storage rack supplier can assist at the planning stage where it is decided how the racks will be placed so that goods can easily and quickly be located and moved around the warehouse. It will make racks to custom sizes that exactly fit the available space.
Many rack suppliers will also supply other warehouse equipment such as flatbed trolleys, packing tables and box trolleys. Safety is a key aspect of warehouse equipment design. Equipment needs to be strong, designed well, and above all be safe for all warehouse workers to use.
If you are expanding a warehouse or moving to a new one, use a UK rack supplier who can recommend the best type of racks for the storage area. Contact use at Steely Products to find out how we can help.Get a free quote