REF: INSP - 081019


Pallet Racking is classed as Work Equipment under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. PUWER states that “where the safety of work equipment depends on the manner of installation, it must be inspected after installation and before being put into use”.

HSG76 Guidelines state that “A technically competent person should carry out inspections at intervals of not more than 12 months”.

RHP Warehouse Design Engineers recommend that Surveys should be carried out by SEMA Approved Inspectors (SARI) as a regular audit to check the condition of equipment for Health and Safety purposes, and in compliance with SEMA Codes and HSG76 Guidelines. Surveys must be conducted and documented in a systematic manner. This is best done by means of a structured report, so that others can understand precisely what was done, to what extent, and can physically locate any component referred to accurately and quickly.

Key requirements to meet these objectives:

  1. Where more than one area of equipment exists on a site, each must be given a unique reference. Each run of Racking or Shelving within an area (a double entry unit consists of two runs) or each block of drive in/drive through or dynamic storage must be similarly identified.
  2. Each upright in a run or block must be encoded for individual recognition as must each level of storage. Note: many Racks are clearly labelled for stock location purposes. This can be the basis of the survey report but may need some adapting.
  3. If goods are stored on the equipment at the time of survey, it is normally possible to carry out the checks, unless their distribution restricts the visibility of structural components. If this is the case, the goods should be removed to allow access to the Racking or Shelving components. The Engineer Surveyor should record the type of goods, weight, condition of pallets, method of access used, etc.
  4. All equipment employed and its methods of use should be fully described. The owner of the surveyed Racking or Shelving should ensure that all necessary access equipment used is suitable and safe for the purpose e.g. the use of personnel safety cages for use with fork lift trucks.
  5. The SEMA code is used as a guide to examination and defect categorisation.

A SARI Inspector conducting an inspection for damage will normally commence with a visual check from ground level. This should include reporting on peripheral items such as loose guide rail or floor fixings, moving parts such as wheels and brakes within dynamic storage systems, missing beam connector locks, or obvious failings in floor screeds/expansion joints. Items such as sprinkler/smoke detection fixtures are usually not included in the audit survey.

All parts of the Racking and Shelving will be inspected over the full height and length as the loading permits. The SARI Inspector may require goods to be moved where concerns about the integrity of the Racking exist.

The majority of audits will be carried out from ground level. Access equipment will be required for high level inspections, including safety harnesses, where appropriate. Reference should be made to the Work at Height Regulations and Technical Guide Note PM28, issued by the Health and Safety Executive, regarding personnel working platforms and safe high-level inspections.

It remains the responsibility of the user to take safe corrective action whenever defects or damage have been identified, even when an engineer surveyor has been regularly consulted and Health and Safety damage inspections have taken place.

Surveys will normally classify any defects/damage found into a series of categories as follows:

RED (before further use) defects’ – Defects that should be remedied before further use.

These are items which are classed at least twice the acceptable limitations, or so severely damaged well beyond the limitations of the SEMA Code. In such circumstances, the Racking and Shelving should be immediately off-loaded and isolated from future use until repair work is carried out. Repair work normally means the replacement of the damaged item. An on-site written defect report will be left by the SARI Inspector in order to inform the user of the seriousness of the situation.

AMBER (timed) defects’ – Defects that should be remedied by the specified date.

These are items which are damaged beyond the limitations of the SEMA Code, but not twice the limitation, and as such not sufficiently serious to warrant immediate off-loading of the Rack. A procedure should be in place to ensure that, once the rack is off-loaded, it is not re-used until repairs have been carried out within the specified time period of 4 weeks. After 4 week period has elapsed, damage will be reclassified as RED Risk, and warrant immediate offloading.

‘GREEN defects’ – Defects that should be monitored during internal monthly audits

These are items which are damaged but are within the acceptable limitation of the SEMA Code. Such items would be recorded as, ‘Suitable for use but identified for monthly assessment.’ Any subsequent damage to these items will mean reclassification to AMBER Risk.

The frequency of audit inspection survey should initially be based on risk assessment, then subsequently on reviewing those risks, plus evaluating any trends as surveys take place.

Regardless of these categories: it is recommended that Racking installations requiring operatives to perform new techniques – or significantly increased levels of activity – should be surveyed within four months of installation, at most.

The consequences of objects falling from Racking, or the Racking collapsing, can be costly and result in serious or fatal injuries and prosecution.

To reduce the risk of this happening, RHP Warehouse Design Engineers recommend that Racking and Shelving must be designed, manufactured, installed, serviced and maintained correctly and, of course that it is used safely and inspected at least every twelve months by a SARI Inspector.

Any deficiencies in the above could create a gap in the coverage of risks which day-to-day inspections may not expose.

As well as providing an inspection service, RHP Warehouse Design Engineers can help you assess the risks and take action to improve the risks if necessary.

Remember, just because Racking and Shelving meets current standards for design and manufacture, it does not mean that it will always be safe to use. You should assess how the equipment is going to be used in practice. Remember, the risk reduction hierarchy places engineering control (i.e. robust design, installation, inspection and maintenance) over ‘discipline’ (i.e. using it carefully).

REF: MAINT - 091019



Inspection and Maintenance.

If you use, or are responsible for Storage Racking, the risk of collapse may be higher than you think. Racking collapses often result in severe or fatal injuries and subsequent prosecution.

To reduce the risk of Racking or Shelving structures collapsing, it is important that you are fully aware of the safe procedures to be followed.

This includes ensuring that the Racking has been correctly designed in accordance with the SEMA Code of practice, that it has been installed in accordance with the SEMA Installation code, that it is regularly maintained and inspected, as well as the safe day to day usage, in accordance with HSG76 Guidelines.

An internal and external regime of regular inspection for Pallet Racking and Shelving systems should be carried out at a series of levels of competence, by qualified and trained operators.

Warehouse staff and Fork lift truck operators should be encouraged to report all damage immediately as it occurs.

Regular formal inspections of all Racking and Shelving should be undertaken by suitably trained warehouse management who are designated as the persons responsible for racking safety (PRRS), at monthly intervals to identify and act upon damage not yet reported.

Yearly or half yearly formal inspections of all Racking and Shelving should be carried out by a technically competent individual, preferably a SEMA approved Racking Inspector (SARI), who is fully experienced in the identification and categorisation of racking damage, risk assessment and housekeeping.

The following are critical safe operating procedures:

  • All Racking and Shelving should be clearly marked with its safe operating load,

SEMA loading signage is generally fitted to ends of runs.

  • All persons operating forklift trucks should be suitably trained.
  • Any damage should be reported to the PRRS immediately, and if necessary

offloaded until repairs can be carried out, preferably by SEMA Approved

installation operatives (SEIRS), or a SEMA Approved Installation Company (SAIC).


More specifically, the issues that can be encountered with Racking and Shelving include:

  • Inadequate forklift truck driver training.

Drivers must be instructed in the correct use of the forklift and the Racking, as well as any specific requirements, in terms of pallet positioning, clearances, rotating pallets or directions for entering aisles etc, arising from the general layout.

  •  Carelessness.

Retraining, supervision and increased management awareness can help reduce incidents caused by carelessness.

  • High speed of operation.

Drivers differ in their ability to operate quickly and safely. Input/output cycle requirements must be compatible with the abilities of the drivers.

  • Inadequate design of layout.

Racking layouts that give good access and adequate aisle/ lane dimensions must be considered at a very early stage in planning. People who will eventually have responsibility for the operation should be involved in the planning.

  • Use of forklift trucks.

The forklift is an integral part of the installation design and must be considered at the planning stage. Arbitrary, seemingly innocuous, changes in the choice of – or setup of – forklift, can lead very quickly to extensive damage, particularly where aisles/clearances are rendered too small or too wide.

  • Use of wrong or damaged pallets.

Not all pallets are suitable for use in Pallet Racking and even fewer are suitable for use in drive-in racking. The SEMA Code of Practice for the Design and Use of Static Pallet Racking provides useful information. Broken or sagging pallets can cause premature beam failure by outward pressure on the inside faces of the beams.

  • Use of floor guide rails.

Floor guide rails may fail to constrain forklifts in their correct attitude to the equipment. This is frequently due to failed floor fixings – often caused by poor flooring material – or to excessive forces from forklifts (which, in turn, can be caused by failing to compensate for truck-mounted guide rollers by adjustment or by reversing trucks into aisles).

  • Housekeeping.

Poor housekeeping can cause aisles and access ways to be obstructed by pallets, rubbish etc. The usual result of any of these above issues is impact damage to the front upright in the first metre of height and to the beams at the first level.

  • Inexperienced

Relocating, adjusting, re-assembling or re-erecting without authorisation.

Any of the above could make equipment unstable. Similarly, neither the intermixing of products from different manufacturers, nor the use of incompatible accessories, is recommended.

Further causes of Racking and Shelving problems include:

  1. Climbing the face of Racking and collapsing the front edges of shelves and beams.
  2. Impacts from heavy packages dropped onto shelving giving rise to point load effects.
  3. Overloading shelves by not controlling the number of items (unit loads) stored.
  4. Shelving becoming unstable because of unsuitable access equipment or being inadequately fixed.
  5. Use of fork trucks and other heavy lifting equipment in the vicinity of shelving.
  6. Use of unauthorised handling equipment in the shelving aisles.
  7. Forcing items into place causing shelves to be lifted off their supporting clips thereby increasing loads on lower shelves.

In addressing these issues you should consider and make use of ‘active’ and ‘passive’ measures to control the risk.


– Follow good installation design – layout, lighting, trucks, clearances etc.

– Provide driver training on the job and safety education.

– Use correct pallets that are in good condition.

– Lay adequate floor markings.

– Display loading/safety notices.

– Adhere to good housekeeping generally.


– Undertake preventative maintenance, including in-service inspection and repair.



– Physical barriers – e.g. Armco.

– Column guards.

– Guide rails.

If you have any concerns about the above and require assistance, RHP Warehouse Design Engineers can provide comprehensive guidance.

If you are planning to purchase Racking and Shelving or already have it installed, you should assess the risks. Several incidents of Racking collapse have occurred, prompting the HSE to issue a number of guidance documents (INDG 412, HSE 605/48 and OC 687/5, etc.). These cover the types of Racking used in various industries, and provide an example risk assessment for warehouses.

Documents highlighting the risks involved and the actions to be taken to mitigate them are freely available at the HSE’s website (go to and search for ‘storage racking’).

Meanwhile, the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) has guidance available on the installation, safe use and inspection of racking at

Remember: just because Racking and Shelving meets current standards for design and manufacture, it does not mean that it will always be safe to use. You should assess how the equipment is going to be used in practice. Remember, the risk reduction hierarchy places engineering control (i.e. robust design, installation, inspection and maintenance) over ‘discipline’ (i.e. using it carefully).

REF: INSP- 091019

Why Inspect Storage Equipment and the role of Racking Inspectors

Regular Inspections of Racking structures are required to:

  1. Prevent and minimise the effects of accidents
  2. Comply with legislation – Workplace Health and Safety Welfare Regulations, HGS76, and The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER)
  3. Maximise safety in the workplace

Your Responsibilities:

RHP Warehouse Design Engineers advise that both the user and the equipment supplier have responsibilities for the safe use of the storage system, responsibilities of the user include:

  1. Ensuring that load notices are correct and clearly visible
  2. Instigating a reporting system to monitor accidents and damage
  3. Conducting internal damage surveys
  4. Ensuring correct pallet types are used at all times
  5. Appropiate training for all operatives of materials handling equipment


Who should Inspect Racking equipment

RHP Warehouse Design Engineers advise that end users who have involvement with, or responsibility for, the safe use of the racking systems, should have attended a one day training course on Rack Safety Awareness, available through SEMA. This is aimed at operatives who are designated as the person responsible for racking safety (PRRS), and explains your responsibilities as a user, how to conduct internal inspections, monitor and record rack damage. Inspections should be carried out on a weekly/monthly basis.

For more information on training courses please contact SEMA on 0121 601 6359

RHP Warehouse Design Engineers advise that in addition to weekly or monthly surveys by the user, a competent person, usually a third party inspector, ie the SEMA Approved Inspector (SARI), should carry out an inspection audit annually.

What is a Competent Inspector

Competency includes a mix of practical and cognitive skills as well as relevant subject knowledge. The SEMA Approved Rack Inspector qualification assesses and develops these skills in line with current legislation and industry codes of practice.





The Role of the Inspector

RHP Warehouse Design Engineers recognise that the role of the SEMA Approved Rack Inspector demands sound observational skills, a robust understanding of storage equipment and industry standards and a keen eye for detail. The Inspector must be able to assimilate technical information and communicate findings clearly and concisely.

Quality Assurance

End users are assured that the SEMA Approved Rack Inspector has been trained and assessed in a number of areas and disciplines which achieves competency in the aforementioned practical and cognitive skill sets.

Disciplines include:

  1. Industry Standards
  2. Codes of Practice
  3. Legislative Requirements
  4. Types of Inspection
  5. Conducting an Inspection
  6. Inspection Techniques
  7. The Role of the Inspector
  8. Load Notice Requirements
  9. Damage Assessment
  10. Structural issues
  11. Risk Types
  12. Loadings
  13. Rack Identification
  14. Serious Incidents
  15. Reporting on an Inspection


Frequency of Inspection

In addition to regular inspections carried out by warehouse operatives and supervisors, SEMA recommends an annual or bi-annual inspection by a technically competent person, ie the SEMA Approved Rack Inspector. The frequency of this third party inspection will be dependent upon a number of factors including the type of operation and the storage equipment in use.

SEMA Brand

SEMA is a well respected and well recognised brand within the industry. In upholding the SEMA brand, SEMA Distributor Company (SDC) members are required to conform to all applicable SEMA standards and procedures in the supply of storage equipment into the market. RHP Warehouse Design Engineers are proud to be a SEMA Approved Distributor Company.


REF: SHAND - 081019


RHP Warehouse Design Engineers, stress that all companies should think carefully about the potential dangers of purchasing and installing used shelving and racking systems.

With many on line auction sites and racking suppliers offering second hand systems, there is plenty of temptation for businesses who are looking to increase their storage capacity on a budget with used racking and shelving.

However whilst some second hand shelving or racking may look of good quality, it is virtually impossible to guarantee that it is fit for purpose without full knowledge of what it had been designed to do in the first instance.

The shelving or racking may appear free from physical damage however it is extremely difficult to identify what level of degradation has taken place which would result in the equipment not being capable of carrying the same load levels as new components.

The degradation can be caused by overloading, fire damage, use in cold stores, internal corrosion, and most will be invisible to the naked eye.

At the most basic level, you could be opening yourself to risk by buying shelving or racking which has been incorrectly identified and specified. To carry this out with absolute certainty would require detailed data and experience to ensure that the racking supplied will safely carry the loads required in the new configuration.

In addition, further problems can be caused by components being modified such as beams cut and re-welded, or frames incorrectly braced, cut or joined by a previous user, or your second hand supplier, to make them fit their required installation. These modifications will have a major effect on the load capacity and safety implications.

RHP Warehouse Design Engineers are fully aware that that racking is legally classed as work equipment and is therefore, covered by The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 1998) which states that employers have a responsibility to ensure that the work equipment they provide is safe to use and fit for purpose.

In the event that an accident occurs in your workplace and it is found that you have purchased and installed equipment which you cannot demonstrate is safe to use and fit for purpose, the Company Directors can be held personally responsible – ultimately with jail sentences.

Second hand packages are also more than likely to be supplied with accessories from mixed manufacturers and whilst each may be sound in their own right, may not be covered by any guarantee when used together.

When it comes to the installation of used racking purchased from a separate source whether it is online or from a used racking supplier, RHP Warehouse Design Engineers warn that there are further issues that must be taken into consideration to ensure that you are meeting the very basic levels of health and safety requirements

Firstly you need to ensure that only approved and knowledgeable people were used to dismantle, transport and store the shelving or racking to ensure that no damage occurred during this critical process.

Secondly the rebuild should ideally be exactly as the original installation or that sufficient data is available for qualified people to confirm that the components will be capable of being used safely in the new design and that the re-erection is carried out in accordance with SEMA codes and using SEIRS registered installers or SAIC approved installation companies.

A key issue that most companies purchasing second hand racking will face is that of load notices, a SEMA requirement and also a legal requirement under the health and safety guidelines HSG76. It would be extremely difficult for any reputable company to issue load notices to put on the used racking system unless they have full access to critical design information, product data and inspection reports.

So if you are considering second hand racking as an option for your business it is vital that you weigh up the short term cost savings against the potential consequences of sub-standard racking.

RHP Warehouse Design Engineers, as a SEMA Distributor Group (SDG) member strive to promote:

  1. Manufacturers from the British Trade Association of the Storage Equipment Industry (SEMA).
  2. SEIRS installers and SAIC installation companies.

RHP Warehouse Design Engineers, as a SEMA Distributor Group (SDG):

  1. Do not endorse the use of second hand shelving and racking systems.