Racking installation: safety should always come first when you work at height

Health & safety should always be your number one priority when installing a warehouse storage solution. Multi-million-pound fines can be incurred if your practices are found to be less than robust. That’s why the HSE’s Guide to health & safety in the warehouse and storage industry – known by those in the industry as HSG76 – is a must-read for racking installation companies, SEIRS installers and anyone involved in delivering a warehouse storage solution.

This detailed guide comprises 155 pages covering a broad range of health and safety issues to be aware of if you work in the warehouse and storage sector. I’m not proposing to cover each and every element in this article (thank goodness, I hear you cry!) but I would like to pick out a few sections that are particularly relevant to those involved in the racking installation business.

Paragraph 634 of HSG76 sets out the basic principles for safe racking installation as follows:

– Racking should only be installed by competent people in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. A programme of installation training is run under SEIRS (Storage Equipment Installers Registration Scheme), which is run by SEMA.

– Racking should be erected on sound, level floors, capable of withstanding the point loading at each base plate.

– Where the racking design requires it to be secured to the building, only those building members that have been ‘proved’, by structural calculations, as able to resist the forces applied should be used. In such a case, the racking design should be compatible with the building layout.

– Double-sided runs should be connected and spaced using suitable run spacers.

– Where necessary, eg where lift trucks or other mechanical handling equipment are used, racking should be securely fixed to the floor.

– Aisles should be wide enough to ensure that mechanical handling equipment can be easily manoeuvred. Widths will depend very much on the type of equipment used, eg some require a 90° turn to load and offload, some remain parallel to the aisle and have forks at 90° to the direction of travel.

– Beam connector locks should always securely fix the connectors at the ends of each beam, to prevent accidental uplift of beams, eg by lift truck.

– Racking should have a clear unambiguous notice securely fixed to it, stating the maximum load together with any necessary specified load configurations.

– The limitations indicated in the maximum load notice should never be exceeded. The weight of each palletised load should be established before a decision is made to store it in the racking. This is particularly important where different products are stored which may vary considerably in weight, or where a new line of product is brought into the warehouse for the first time. In some situations, it may not be necessary to establish the weight of each palletised load, if the racking system is designed and installed to meet the storage requirements of the heaviest palletised load in your company’s operation. Nevertheless, you should adopt a system to ensure that all palletised loads intended for storage in racking can be safely stored in accordance with the particular racking design and installation.

– Racking should never be altered (eg by welding) nor components removed without first consulting the manufacturer. Before changing the position of adjustable components on racking (as supplied), you should establish the design limitations of the new configuration and, where necessary, amend the safe working load notice. Adjusting the position of the first or second beam from the bottom is normally the most critical alteration, which always requires a check on the rated carrying capacity of the rack.

– High visibility colours for key components of the racking, eg horizontal beams, will assist truck operators to correctly position the forks and avoid damage to the racking.

Bedtime reading on racking safety

Further details of health and safety in warehousing and storage is available in a free-to-download version of HSG76  http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg76.pdf courtesy of the Health and Safety Executive. Even if you’re already familiar with its contents, a timely refresher never hurts.

And finally…

Using a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) to install your racking system is one of the safest ways to work at height. Our fleet of clean, compact scissor lifts are a popular choice with racking installation companies and SEIRS installers.  Call today to discuss the best MEWP for your racking installation project.



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