Safety is paramount in the warehousing industry and there are rules and regulations that ensure operations can be carried out with as little risk to life and limb as possible.
Given the nature of the industry, nowhere is this safety culture more applicable than in the area of racking and the need to operate within safe working loads and weight limits.
Failure could be catastrophic, with the potential for injury and death together with fines, an operational hiatus, stock damage, lost revenue, repair costs and even a hit on reputation.
Loads and Limits
The need to ensure working loads are handled safely and storage activity stays within set limits is established at the design and planning stage of a project.
Types, sizes and weight of the goods you will handle as a business will all fit into the calculation for how much racking is required and of what load-bearing capability.
Heights range from 2500mm to 12500mm for wide aisle applications and up to 16500mm for narrow aisle applications.
Once operations are active, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says the weight of each palletised load should be established before the decision is made to store it in the racking.
Different products will have different weights and if you are handling new goods in your warehouse for the first time, then checking the load is equally important.
The HSE advises adopting a system to ensure that all loaded pallets to be stored in racking can be done safely and in accordance with the particular racking design and installation.
In some situations, you may not have to find out the weight of each loaded pallet if the racking was designed to meet the storage requirements of your heaviest load.
Communicating the Rules
Safety around racking is not just about establishing the operating rules and applying them but there is a clear requirement to communicate them to the workforce as well.
Load notices are a vital communication tool within warehouses. Usually attached to the racking structure, it gives warnings and instructions on all types of storage equipment and what to do and what not to do in order to maintain a safe working environment.
More specifically, the load notice also contains information on the safe working load of the system to which it is attached, such as the maximum weight capacity and the height and pitches of the beams.
Sometimes, the notice also carries the date that the system was supplied and the contact details for the supplier.
No specific legislation is in place that requires a load notice to be attached. But it could be considered to be included under the Provision of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, which says equipment needs to be safe and suitable for use and staff trained and informed.
The HSE states that the limitations indicated in the maximum load notice should never be exceeded.
In addition to this, clear training and guidance should be provided to all members of staff within the warehouse environment, ensuring that all members of the workforce are clear on what the maximum racking loads are, and why it’s important for them to be obeyed at all times.
Finally, regular racking inspections should also be carried out. Typically, racking inspections are associated with examining the overall condition of the racking. However, a racking inspector will also highlight any unsafe use of racking, such as overloading, and will of course highlight any damage to the racking structure from storing unsuitable loads.
The selection of the right racking systems with the right safe loading capacities is, of course, informed by your own knowledge and experience of your own business.
But you are not alone when it comes to meeting such a critical requirement.
With Quickline, you have a partner with the racking system expertise and the know-how to help you achieve your warehousing goals. Contact us and we can start the conversation.