Storage under scrutiny

03 July 2019

Jaap Vos, president of SEMA outlines some of the key considerations when undertaking storage equipment maintenance inspections.

For over 50 years, the Storage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association  (SEMA) has led on safe storage practice. Today, over 165 SEMA member businesses, together with committees and training initiatives, combine their knowledge, skill and expertise as the British Trade Association of the Storage Equipment Industry. SEMA’s mission is our commitment to promoting and extending the safe design, installation and use of storage equipment manufactured and supplied by our members.

Our corporate member groups include Full Manufacturing Members and Associates plus independently audited SEMA Distributor and Installation Companies. SEMA educational initiatives include the SEMA Rack Inspector qualification and SEIRS, the Storage Equipment Installers’ Registration Scheme.

SEMA’s Rack Inspection Regime
Two elements of SEMA service specifically mitigate risk by helping you meet 2017’s tougher Health & Safety regulation. Our provision defines best practice in rack maintenance, and we provide rack training courses (see below).

SEMA Approved Inspectors are highly qualified professionals. Their day job is to complete the SEMA circle of quality by undertaking racking and storage systems inspections at end-users’ premises. There are some 120 fully SEMA-qualified inspectors, mostly based in the UK. They conduct racking and storage condition assessments, reports and recommendations, so that all places of employment can operate as safe environments.

Based on daily observations, SEMA inspectors indicate that nowadays, businesses are much more aware of the potential problems with respect to storage equipment although, undoubtedly, there are still plenty that are not.

How to manage rack safety
The end-user needs to appoint a Person Responsible for Racking Safety (PRRS) who is suitably qualified and experienced who ‘s job is to take responsibility for maintaining safe operation of storage systems, maintain rack inspection and keep maintenance records. SEMA recommends the PRSS implements into company procedure a risk assessment and method statement for racking and storage inspection.  

Remember! Inspection is not a substitute for deficient, defective or absent specification, design, installation, training, operation or maintenance. On its own, it does not solve the problem as it’s only the first link in the chain. This is then followed by taking areas out of use so that the necessary maintenance action can be undertaken to solve the issue which has been identified by the inspection.
SEMA’s in-situ safety regime – see infographic

The SEMA “onion skin approach to rack inspection” consists of three layers with three overlapping levels of inspection namely; immediate (used to be called the daily) inspection, the regular (used to be called the weekly) inspection and the “expert” (annual) inspection which needs to be carried out by SEMA Approved Inspector or a trained specialist internally or externally.

There are two types of inspection commonly available; a full SARI inspection and a (non-SEMA) damage only inspection. A damage only inspection provides a list of damaged items and their location. It’s OK as far as it goes whereas a full SEMA inspector’s report offers far more. It will check immediate and regular scrutiny is being carried out; identify/check rack configuration as well as checking a host of other safety related matters. To help end-users prepare, The SEMA Guide to the Conduct of Racking and Shelving Inspections covers in a broken-down easy to follow format, the approach taken during the “Expert” (normally annual) inspection.

Load Notices
An in-house regular inspection should also check to make sure that loading on a Load Notice is being correctly observed, meeting any dimensional data given and that the Load Notice specifically applies to the rack that its fixed to, often a problem if racking is moved or altered.
See video at

Rack Inspection Training
For ‘Regular’ inspections, SEMA recommends that in-house staff attend our Rack Safety Awareness course which covers; responsibilities, what to measure, explanation of the load notice, inspection equipment, practical examples of damage categorisation and damage prevention. SEMA also runs Rack Safety Awareness courses.

Commercial sense
Commercially speaking, the small defects left unrepaired, may lead to higher costs or perhaps serious accidents over time. All staff need to accept a collective responsibility for taking due care.  Keep it simple but reporting promptly should follow documented procedures with actions recorded.