Rack Safety Inspection

Whilst recently re-reading the “storage equipment manufacturers association” (SEMA) code of practice for the use of pallet racking in warehouses, I was struck by how it isn’t followed in South Africa. While local rack manufacturers at least say that they produce their products to SEMA standards, estimates of the percentage of warehouses who even try to follow this code vary from 2% downwards. Requests to meet with a warehouse PRRS are likely to be met with a blank stare. If, and increasingly when, a rack collapse occurs, the normal reaction from warehouse management is to say that it had been under-designed.

Collapsed Racking System

If just the code’s system of rack inspections was implemented across the warehouse industry rack collapses could be reduced by over 80 %. Every warehouse should have a trained PRRS (person responsible for racking safety). Forklift drivers should be encouraged to report any rack impacts immediately to the PRRS for assessment and, if necessary, repair.

Competent trained persons, who may or may not be the PRRS, should inspect the racking on a weekly basis, complete the necessary paperwork for all damages noted.

Here the red, amber and green levels of damage are used.

Level of damage is twice the SEMA limits. Affected bays to be immediately cleared and demarcated with hazard tape until repaired by a trained rack repairer.

Outside SEMA limits but racks do not require immediate offloading although no new pallets should be placed in the affected area. Once the area is empty, the racks can be repaired, so long as this happens within 4 weeks.

If it doesn’t, the area is treated as Red.

Damage is within SEMA limits but is recorded and checked weekly to make sure it hasn’t got worse.

As part of the weekly inspection additional aspects including pallet quality, beam deflections, cleanliness and rack protection should be recorded and commented on. The report should then be signed off by the warehouse manager and the necessary repairs authorized. Annually or preferably bi-annually, the racking should be inspected by an external technically competent person primarily to make sure that the internal inspections are being done properly and that the internally reported damage is actually being properly repaired or replaced.

For proper inspections to happen, technically competent and competent people are needed. As far as is known, no rack safety or inspection training is currently offered in South Africa. In an effort to assist, Barpro is training staff in house and is now offering external racking checks. However, these aren’t much good if regular internal rack inspections are not already in place. Barpro is also making internal rack inspection documentation and rack testing tools available to facilitate internal rack inspections. Barpro would like to work with other concerned parties so as to promote rack safety in South African warehouses.

Barpro Storage Rack Inspection Tool

If more information is required please contact Mark Pearce on mark@barpro.co.za & 021 5529190