A Guide to Warehouse Racking Inspections

Warehouse racking inspections are crucial to protect staff and meet HSE regulations. Discover how often you should inspect your racking systems and what’s required to keep your working environment safe.

Warehouse racking has become an essential demand in a world now consumed by e-commerce sales, with its global market size valued at $8.49 billion in 2020.

However, maximising storage space to its optimum capacity still requires you to protect operators and staff within your facility by following the necessary warehouse storage health and safety regulations.

To shed some light on the topic, we’ve put together a handy guide on the specific HSE regulations and classifications for warehouse racking inspections to ensure your facility remains safe for the future.

Racking inspection - Black Country Safety Inspections

What are Warehouse Racking Systems?

Warehouse racking is a storage system supporting significant loads above ground level. Also known as “pallet racking”, “tyre racking”, or “drum racking”, warehouse racking consists of a metal framework of fixed or adjustable design.

Common types of racking systems found in warehouses include the following:

  • Adjustable pallet racking
  • Mobile racking
  • Cantilever racking
  • Live storage racking
  • Push-back system
  • Drive-through/drive-in racking

All racking systems should consist of mechanical construction and materials. Installation and maintenance of racking systems must meet official guidelines with correct design configuration and maximum weights for safe working conditions displayed.

How to Safely Install Warehouse Racking

When installing warehouse racking within your premises, always make sure your installation is by the book to pass mandatory warehouse racking inspections. HSE states, “Racking systems should be properly designed and installed, this includes being able to safely take the load of the goods being stored.”

The safe installation of your system must meet the racking requirements, such as the size, shape, and overall design. It’s also important to factor in the area for the racking while carefully considering safe working loads, height, width, and equipment.

Why Are There Warehouse Racking Inspections?

Due to the dangers of storing heavy loads high above ground level, warehouse racking inspections are essential to maintain staff safety.

The common reasons for warehouse racking inspections include the following:

Lightweight Materials
For the convenience of fitting, design, and maintenance, warehouse racking systems can sometimes come in lightweight materials. Therefore, there’s only so much weight and strain they can take over time before they become damaged and broken.

Pallet Stops
Pallet stops attached to racking structures can increase the risk of damage with any thrust or load applied to the racking.

Vehicle Damage
Trucks and other vehicles can crash into racking to cause significant damage. Corner uprights are a particular risk and should display a warning sign or some form of protection.

Inexperienced Staff
Inexperienced or untrained personnel can cause damage to storage systems while using a forklift or by climbing upon the racking. The more damage the racking takes, the more likely an accident can occur without a professional inspection.

Frequent Loading/Offloading
Depending on the loading and offloading frequency, the condition of the racking is affected and potentially damaged over time.

Warehouse Conditions
The age of the racking system can also play a role in how stable the storage system is within a warehouse, not to mention the conditions of the warehouse itself. External factors within the warehouse, such as the height-to-depth ratio can affect the strength and structure of a warehouse racking system.

Coloured Classification of Damaged Racking

There are three risk levels to determine the action required for maintaining warehouse racking systems:

1. Green – Requiring Surveillance
Green indicates a safe level for warehouse racking but is suitable for further service on later inspection.

2. Amber – Hazardous Damage Requiring Service ASAP
Amber is determined with damage to the racking to highlight a fix is necessary without the immediate reloading of the rack. When you offload the racking, ensure no new loads return until repairing the damage.

3. Red – Serious Damage Requiring Immediate Action
A red risk level is when you identify critical damage on the racking. The next step is to immediately but safely offload the structure and clear the surrounding area. Then, completely isolate the racking from further use until fixing the damage.

How Often Should Warehouse Racking Be Inspected?

Visual inspections by the PRRS (person responsible for racking safety) are recommended once a week. Any issues found by the PRRS should be formally reported and checked via the ‘classification of damaged racking’.

However, ‘expert’ inspections from a professional warehouse racking inspector should happen annually, as recommended by HSE.

Warehouse Racking Inspection Best Practice

Warehouse racking inspections follow a hierarchical process involving multiple levels of investigation and subsequent action:

Racking Protection
Giving the racking system as much protection from any vehicle or manual damage is one way to avoid any potential damage. You should also make sure nobody climbs on the racking system to retrieve goods and give adequate clearance space to avoid vehicles crashing into the racking structure.

Immediate Reporting
If an issue of safety or damage ever emerges with a racking system, you must report it immediately to a PRRS.

Employee Awareness
All staff should receive adequate training and safety instructions regarding the safe operation of any racking system.

Visual Inspections
We recommend your PRRS makes weekly visual inspections, with a formal written report highlighting any issues or concerns.

Expert Inspection
As stated, expert warehouse racking inspections should occur at least once a year by a professional inspector.

Is Racking Inspection a Legal Requirement?

Warehouse racking inspections are recommended but not compulsory by law. However, the HSE advises all warehouse owners to undertake racking inspections. As stated clearly in ‘Warehousing and storage: Keep it safe’, the HSE declare – “Inspect racking regularly to make sure it is repaired and maintained properly and is safe.”

The HSE recommends warehouse owners comply with the three main types of inspection:

  • Immediate reporting of damage and defects
  • Visual inspections at regular intervals
  • Annual expert inspections carried out by a professional

In the outcome of a work-related accident as a result of poor racking maintenance, those in charge of warehouse operations would be morally and legally responsible for not maintaining the safety of their staff.

Speak to an Expert Warehouse Racking Inspector

Avoiding danger at all costs should be the main priority of any warehouse owner. As industrial safety inspection specialists, Black Country Safety Inspections has the skills and experience to help you provide a safe working environment.

We conduct warehouse racking inspections precisely and professionally before promptly submitting a written report to your PRRS with any observations and proposals for further action. So, if your warehouse racking system requires inspection, contact us today.

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