The very mention of an HSE Inspector can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest, most safety- orientated Warehouse or Production Manager. Add in the threat of Intervention Fees of £129 per hour for any “material breach of HSE regulations” and it’s easy to see why they are probably not the most welcome of visitors to your premises. Their reputation for finding issues, asking awkward questions and requesting evidence of routine day to day operations can make for, well let’s just say a rather uncomfortable experience – yes I am trying to be polite. If only you had a copy of their Health and Safety Inspection Checklist.
But in the interest of fairness, we spoke to a retired HSE Inspector, whom we are calling Mr X to protect his identity, to get their side of the story and share some insights into what they look for when they visit a warehouse facility.
This is what he said
“People don’t realise their racking is a great thermometer of how serious they take Health and Safety. That is because it’s easy for us to see the visual indicators, request inspection reports and see any upgrade works. If all this is in place, we know they are diligent and at least have a commitment to Health and Safety.”
“So, the first thing we look at is the loading signs. It’s probably one of the biggest giveaways of a company which isn’t Health and Safety conscious. Having no loading signs is almost like taking candy from a baby. Not only can you immediately find them in breach and therefore charge our intervention fees, you can pretty much guarantee there are going to be a number of other areas for concern.”
“But on the other hand, if you do have loading signs, you better follow them. I would regularly count the number of beams shown on the signs and compare them to the racking. Any discrepancies and you are in breach. If the beams aren’t evenly spaced, then you better have proof they are tested with the relevant load capacities.”
“Rack protection is another great indicator of a safety conscious company. If a company has invested in the appropriate rack protection, they tend to take the safety of their employees and their products more seriously than those without.”
“When it comes to the racking itself, we are looking for damage to uprights, damaged connectors and issues with bracing. I would always ask to see evidence of the most recent racking inspection – just to see when they last had their system independently checked, in addition to the internal safety checks I would expect them to carry out on a regular basis.”
“The most common problem is bowed beams, which can occur as a result of over loading the racking. We work to a straightness tolerance of 1 in 1000mm for unloaded beams. Any more deflection and you have a problem and subsequently, could face a fine.”
“If the racking is seen as structurally sound, we look at positioning and the handling requirements of the staff. We are looking at the possibility of products falling and the safe working heights of products being picked without having to strain. So, when we see companies using mesh to segregate racking from production or walkways, again we are seeing these guys as safety conscious.”
This all sounds informative and sensible, however, when we pushed him on whether or not they were challenged to hit certain targets, the answer was a little more diplomatic.
“Despite what people may think, we are not out to fine people. Our focus is on creating safe working environments and ensuring that companies are fulfilling their legal obligations.”
Therefore, the key points to be taken from this are:
• Make sure you have loading signs displayed clearly
• Make sure all your staff understand the loading capacity
• Never move any beams unless you consult with the original installer
• Install rack protection
• Check working heights to prevent strains and injuries to employees
• Use mesh panels to segregate areas and provide protection from falling items
• Carry out regular inhouse checks on the racking – and keep a record
• Ensure you have a full rack inspection carried out at least annually
But most importantly, ensure that your racking is designed, manufactured and installed by a reputable company with SEIRS accredited installers, who can provide you with the right level of support, advice and training to protect your best interests.
If you have any concerns about your existing racking installation, get in touch with us now or give us a call on 01236 453888.
And if you would like more information on the every day checks you should be carrying out on your racking and shelving, check our out Essential Storage Safety Awareness Training.