How to conduct internal rack inspections
In this blog we will cover
Level & frequency of inspections
Methodology of internal inspections
Basics of how to set up a recording system
1. Levels & frequency of inspection (HSG76 & SEMA guidelines)
There are 3 levels of inspections required:
i Damage reporting as and when the damage occurs or is seen
ii Weekly internal inspections
iii Inspection by a ‘competent person’ such as a SARI (SEMA Approved Rack Inspector)
As soon as possible following installation or major changes but must be within 3 months
At intervals of not more than 12 months but may need to be more frequent subject to specific operating conditions
2. Methodology of internal inspection
What we will be focusing on here is points i & ii which is to say what you can do internally. You need to ensure that all staff using storage areas, and I repeat all staff not just the truck drivers, are aware of the need and importance of reporting damage potential issues. They do not need an in-depth knowledge but merely be able to identify obvious defects or what may be a problem. Then your internal inspectors take over and make the assessment. It is a good idea to remind everyone that it doesn’t matter how the problem occurred, let’s not play the blame game here, the important thing is to get it fixed and you can’t fix it if you don’t know about it! Do not forget that if the racks are dangerous then anyone and everyone using that area is at risk. All too often people simply adopt the ‘it’s not my problem, it’s nothing to do with me’ mentality.
So number one is to get staff to report all damage or issues when they are seen or when they occur. This is by far the most important element of the inspection programme. The sooner it is reported the sooner it can be assessed and any appropriate steps taken to make it safe. My general advice to everyone on this point is if it doesn’t look right it probably isn’t right so do something. If one bit of racking looks different to its identical neighbour then it probably needs looking at. The actual damage tolerances you use to assess damage by are pretty slight so by the time you can see damage action is usually required. We will cover the SEMA damage tolerances for assessing damage and what action to take in a later blog. Its critical that staff feel able to report damage so I strongly recommend that you adopt a 'no blame culture' and remind all staff that there are no consequences for reporting damage. The big crime here is not causing the damage but failing to report it. If staff fear repercussions or disciplinary action when they report damage they have caused they are unlikely to report it.
Number two is internal weekly inspections. You need to set up a programme of weekly inspections to identify damage and other issues that may affect the safety of your storage racks. The basic premise here is what is visible from the aisle on a slow walk through the warehouse at the time of the inspection but this is no way as detailed or comprehensive as your annual SEMA Racking Inspection. It is not a requirement to offload the racks for an inspection and it is accepted that the level of occupancy of the warehouse will inevitably restrict inspection, but stock moves over time so what is hidden this week may be visible next week, or the week after that.... which is why the regular programme of inspections is so very important. Clearly if there is a moment when racks are clear of stock then this is a great time to get in close and see what’s going on especially at the back where inspection is usually severely restricted. In addition to the weekly inspection you should also split your warehouse into smaller blocks and carry out a more thorough inspection of each block on a rolling week by week basis thus providing a more detailed inspection of all the racks over a period of a couple of months. For example if your warehouse has let’s say six aisles, each week do a general inspection of all six aisles and then each week do a detailed inspection of one aisle per week so over the six week period you have conducted six general inspections and all the racking has also had a more thorough inspection. As for frequency of inspections the guidance is weekly but again this would be subject to your risk assessment. Clients have asked if the inspection can be done bit by bit on a daily basis for example at shift changeover, before the workday starts or at the end of the day when the racks are quiet. My experience is that it is far easier to inspect a quiet empty warehouse without having to avoid pickers and forklift trucks, and so as long as the total inspection is completed weekly its whatever works best for you.
3. Basics of how to set up a recording system
Finally you need a formal recording system. You must ensure that the inspection is documented and any remedial action taken. The record sheet needs to clearly identify the location, the specific component, damage or issue noted, and any action required. The record sheet doesn’t need to be complicated. The key is that it is clear and simple to use. SEMA use the traffic light system of Red, Amber, and Green for recording damage and we will cover this in a later blog.
4. Annual ‘Expert’ inspections
Finally you must ensure that your racks are inspected as soon as possible after installation (usually within 2-3 months) and then at least once a year by a competent person. The inspections may need to be more frequent depending on the nature and extent of damage but the SEMA Inspector can offer guidance on this. In addition the racks should also be inspected following any significant changes.
These ‘expert inspections’ can be completed by a SEMA approved rack inspector (SARI). More details can be found on our web site at this link: Statutory requirements for rack inspections.
5. How Racking Inspection Services can help you.
We provide onsite Rack awareness training courses. The purpose of this course, which is run at your premises, is to instruct users in the correct method of conducting weekly internal rack inspections for adjustable beam pallet racking according to SEMA guidelines, and in compliance with UK Health & Safety and PUWER regulations.
The training course includes a trial inspection in your warehouse which allows us to personalise the training and discuss site specific issues, and delegate feedback is that this is viewed as a really beneficial part of the course. The delegate pack also includes trial inspection forms. An added benefit is that holding the course on your premises eliminates the cost and time required to transport delegates to and from a training site. For more information and a quote use this link: Rack awareness training.
Racking Inspection Services also provide SEMA approved rack inspections to cover the requirement for your annual 'Expert' inspections so for more information and a quote use this link: Racking inspection quote
 Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association