Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you need to know, warts and all. Honest answers from our experts.

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Why do we need a Rack Inspection?
Pallet racking, cantilever racking, and shelving are considered work equipment and to comply with the ‘Health & Safety at Work Act 1974’ and the ‘Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998,’ an annual inspection by a qualified ‘Technically Competent Person’ is required.

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees under various laws and regulations, so it’s crucial to ensure compliance and safety. If an incident occurs, will your Safe Systems of Work, Inspection Procedures, and documentation hold up under scrutiny by the HSE. 

Employee liability entails the legal responsibility employers bear for their actions at work. Non-compliance with company policies and laws can lead to significant consequences, including imprisonment and financial risks. 

Who can perform a Rack Inspection?
There’s some debate about whether a SEMA Approved Inspector (also known as a SARI) is necessary, However, it’s worth noting that both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the industry recognise SEMA and SARIs as experts with extensive knowledge in the storage field. So, they are considered ‘Technically Competent Persons.’

SARI (Stop and Review Internal) is considered a good practice because it fosters a culture of reflection and improvement within organisations. By implementing SARI, employees are encouraged to identify and rectify potential errors or issues before they escalate. This proactive approach helps prevent accidents, financial losses, and reputational damage. SARI promotes communication, collaboration, and accountability among team members, leading to enhanced problem-solving capabilities and operational efficiency. Overall, SARI enables organisations to address issues promptly, cultivate continuous improvement, and ensure long-term success.

Who is SEMA?
SEMA is short for the ‘Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association.’ They are an authoritative organisation that creates and publishes detailed guidelines covering all aspects of racking, including Design Codes and Inspection Guidelines. These guidelines are not just empty words; they carry significant weight. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) relies on SEMA for advice and guidance when it comes to storage equipment.

In fact, any notice issued by the HSE regarding storage equipment directly aligns with SEMA’s guidelines. Even in the HSE publication called ‘HSG76 Warehousing and storage: A guide to health and safety,’ SEMA is mentioned eighteen times, with one reference specifically highlighting their expertise in inspection.

If you still have doubts about the importance of SEMA’s involvement, it’s worth noting that they have been around since 1968. Over the years, they have amassed a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the field of storage equipment, establishing their credibility. Additionally, their collaboration with the HSE ensures that their recommendations are well-informed and in line with regulatory standards.

Why opt for a SEMA Approved Rack Inspector (SARI)?
Is it not going to be costly? Well, the cost perspective depends on what you consider expensive. When comparing this cost to the potential expenses of legal fees, fines, compensation, or even the risk of imprisonment in the event of an incident, the value becomes evident. The choice becomes clear, doesn’t it?

To achieve their SARI qualification, inspectors are required to undergo rigorous training, pass written examinations, and demonstrate their competence through practical assessments. Additionally, qualified inspectors must commit to continuous professional development (CPD) to uphold their qualification. The HSE recognises the SARI qualification as a mark of being a ‘Technically Competent Person.’

Now, you may think that you could perform the inspection yourself. However, it is important to consider the guidance provided in the ‘HSG76 Warehousing and storage: A guide to health and safety, ‘which emphasises the need for expert inspectors. Let’s not forget the requirements outlined in the ‘Health & Safety at Work Act 1974’ and the ‘Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998,’ which emphasise the importance of having a technically competent person. Do you meet these qualifications?

How frequently should you conduct rack inspections?
To ensure compliance, inspections should be carried out at least once a year. However, there may be circumstances where more frequent inspections are necessary. For instance, during peak or seasonal periods when there is increased pressure and movement of pallets.

While an annual inspection is the minimum requirement for compliance, it is considered best practice to have a designated ‘Person Responsible for Racking Safety’ on-site. This individual should undergo a Racking Safety Awareness Course to gain a comprehensive understanding of the racking system and be educated in the necessary requirements for conducting in-house inspections. Performing inspections on a planned and frequent basis provides a thorough understanding of any issues and enables prompt resolution of repetitive areas of damage. Often, these issues can be resolved quickly and straightforwardly with the appropriate knowledge.

So, is conducting an inspection once a year sufficient? Yes, it meets the compliance requirements. However, it is worth considering whether you are comfortable having loaded pallets in the racks with material handling equipment operating in the area, knowing that inspections are only conducted once every 365 days.

What should I get from my inspection?
The frequency of inspections can vary depending on different perspectives within the industry. Some companies may align their answer with the services they provide. However, to maintain transparency, a comprehensive inspection should adhere to SEMA’s ‘Guide to conduct of Pallet Racking & Shelving Inspections – December 2017.’

In the case of a RISC inspection, a qualified and friendly SARI will arrive at your site at the pre-arranged time. They will familiarize themselves with the facility and your Health & Safety policies, while strictly following all personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements. A thorough visual inspection will be conducted, primarily from ground level, unless an elevated inspection is necessary. The inspection will document the manufacturing details, full specifications of the racking, and any issues identified during the process. These issues may include impacts from material handling equipment, lighting concerns, or general housekeeping matters. Notably, RISC is currently the only company that provides an immediate and comprehensive report upon completion of the inspection, with some limitations.

As SEMA-approved Inspectors, we adhere to industry standards for damage tolerances, in line with SEMA’s classification system, which includes:

RED: Issues requiring immediate attention.

AMBER: Damage or issues necessitating action within four weeks.

GREEN: Identified damage or issues requiring monitoring.

During the inspection debriefing, our inspector will provide detailed explanations of these classifications, accompanied by a thorough review of the full inspection report.

One might think this sounds overly extensive for a mere racking system. However, it is crucial to consider the weight and load-bearing capacity of the stored items. Numerous videos available online depict racking collapses, and it is essential to take proactive measures to prevent such incidents. A professional service that offers the best advice and provides an easily understandable and detailed report is invaluable. Therefore, it is advisable to invest in the highest quality inspection service within your means to ensure the safety and integrity of your racking system.

So what do I do after the inspection?
After the inspection, it is crucial to address the RED classifications promptly as advised by your Inspector. These classifications indicate issues that require immediate attention and should not be delayed.

Depending on the findings in the inspection report, you may find that no further action is required. However, if the report identifies any necessary repairs, alterations, or issue rectifications, we can assist you in addressing those as well. While RISC operates as an independent inspection company, we have a sister company that can provide guidance on repairs, alterations, or solutions to any identified issues. Feel free to reach out to us for any assistance you may require.

What happens if you choose to do nothing? Ignoring the identified issues is a short-term evasion tactic that can have severe consequences. The cost of bringing your system up to the manufacturer’s and SEMA standards may not be excessively high or could appear daunting. However, it is essential to consider the potential cost in terms of legal fees, negative publicity, and the immense stress caused by the ‘Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.’ This act holds companies accountable for their actions, and the consequences can be significant.

Ultimately, it is essential to recognise the potential risks and take proactive measures to ensure compliance and the safety of your employees and business. Failing to address these issues may lead to legal consequences, and it is crucial to avoid finding yourself in a legal dispute.