Monday, August 10, 2015

Every Freight Forwarder or Logistics Supplier Knows the Advantages - and Dangers - of Racking

Storage Equipment Trade Association Looks to Raise Safety Standards
Shipping News Feature

UK – Any freight forwarder, or indeed other company in the supply chain, which runs a storage warehouse, will be familiar with both the advantages and dangers associated with racking systems. What many smaller companies in the logistics sector are often unaware of is that there is a British Trade Association, SEMA, which represents the UK’s storage equipment industry, and which is dedicated to raising safety standards in the design, installation and use of these systems.

Following a statement last year by SEMA President Matt Grierson regarding zero accident workplaces, this year the Association’s Standards & Regulations Seminar, held earlier in the summer, gave over some time to making that observation a reality as Justin O'Sullivan, the founder of North London based SEMA Racking Inspections, and who attended the seminar explains:

“SEMA clarified some changes in code at their seminar that they hoped would make warehouses safer. A key one of these was to do with racking protection. The code advises that physical racking protection needs to be applied to end frames, corner uprights, and exposed frames on ‘bridge bays’ which have lower beams removed allowing for forklift traffic to pass through the pallet racking system. This code is backed up by HSE in paragraph 639 of ‘HSG76 Warehousing and Storage: a guide to Health and Safety’ which states that ‘where racking is likely to be struck by lift trucks and other vehicles, it should be protected.’

“However, the common misinterpretation of this clause is that physical protection is the only kind of protection that is required. Rather, at the seminar it was confirmed that physical racking protection should be seen only as last resort and that proper prevention measures should be in place to avoid anything at all colliding with racking.

“Looking to the future, SEMA announced plans to turn their ‘Guide to Method Statements’ into a formal code of practice for the installation of storage equipment. If this change is made, then HSE have promised SEMA that they will enforce it as law. However, making this change has proven more difficult than initially thought due to time restraints on professionals in the industry. All eyes are on SEMA to see if any of this will be put into practice by the next seminar in 2016.”

What was obvious from the seminar was the increasing pressures put upon those in the industry, and indeed on SEMA staff, by the ever rising levels of documentation and discussion required due to higher environmental and safety standards and Wayne Wiggins, SEMA Distributor Company Assessor speaking at the seminar, illustrated how the Association’s distributor companies are rising to the challenge by raising their own standards with regard to the quality of the storage equipment and services they supply.

What is plain is that anyone with racking in place should go further than just the regular inspections, which are an obvious requirement, and periodically examine their whole storage and physical supply chain systems to see if improvements can be made which would contribute to a safer working environment.