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Industrial Shelving – The Basics for Health and Safety

Posted on June 21st 2019 by Scott.

Industrial Shelving - The Basics for Health and Safety

Nowadays, making the most of warehouse space is vital. Helping ensure we can purchase and stockpile the necessary supplies for peaks in trade. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by implementing good quality and reliable industrial shelving or racking, although doing this can be somewhat complicated; surrounded by a mass of rules, regulations and guidelines. This article therefore aims to illustrate the basic requirements to help you make the best decision and investment.

Industrial shelving and racking is typically available in many different heights, widths and depths. All carefully designed to suite a wide range of items including UK or Euro sized pallets. This vast selection makes the possibilities for your warehouse or storeroom seemingly endless. Therefore, selecting the most suitable racking as well as ensuring proper installation is key to maximizing the benefits of your new storage system. To help with this there are a number of bodies such as SEMA that can train and qualify individuals as industrial shelving and racking installers. So, before you buy on impulse we advise that you conduct prior planning and assessment.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests that the requirements for safe installation of industrial shelving and racking varies according to the type and size of the system, in addition to the nature of the building and area for which it is intended. Your risk assessments should consider aspects such as safe working loads, heights, widths and equipment tolerances. Even though (in most cases) product manufacturers clearly outline these in technical documentation. It is still important that you conduct a detailed site specific investigation. As well as to educate the relevant teams and end users on both your findings and noteworthy concerns (when appropriate). A full version of the HSE’s Warehousing and Storage Safety Guidelines are available for download on their website. However, at this early stage, it is best to decide whether the system you like is suitable for the intended location. So,

What do need to know for safe installation of industrial shelving?

First and foremost. Your new racking system should be installed by competent persons in full accordance with the manufacturers assembly guidelines. These quite often include points such as to:

  • Build and locate racking on level floors which are capable of withstanding the overall intended loads.
  • Support from the building (if required) should only come from areas that have undergone thorough structural calculations. To prove the building is able to withstand the force which will be applied upon it.
  • Connect double sided runs with compatible run spacers.
  • Use anchor feet and fixings to secure the racking to the floor, especially in areas where lifting equipment such as fork lifts and pallet stackers will be in use.
  • Space your racking so that any required manual handling and lifting equipment can be safely operated between them. This may involve 90° turns to load and unload shelves.
  • Connect beams with securing bolts, to prevent uplift when removing stored items.
  • All racking and shelving should have clear signage stating its maximum load capacities, ensuring there is no room for misinterpretation.


What should be noted for future reference?

It is not always possible to ‘future proof’ storage systems. Therefore as time passes you may notice that your racking system has or may become less effective. This is not necessarily down to the product itself, but more to do with how your business has grown or evolved in it’s operation. With this, it is important to remember that at no point should the limitations specified in the maximum load notice be exceeded. The best practice here is to calculate the total palletised load of goods prior to their arrival and storage. This technique is particularly useful when products and their weights vary from time to time.

With this in mind, it is important to understand that the design and manufacture of industrial shelving is very complex, with hours of work being dedicated to each individual component, especially those that are load bearing. These parts quite often include the use of highly visible colours for main structure components, which help reduce the risk of future damage from collisions with manual handling and lifting equipment. This therefore means that under no circumstance should you alter your industrial racking or shelving with cuts, welds or the removal of any core components. If you happen to have any adjustable parts on your current or new racking, they should be done so with consideration; ensuring total load capacities and operating procedures are updated accordingly on completion.

What are the main racking components?

Collectively, industrial racking usually consists of 8 key components, these include:
1. Rack Frames
2. Uprights
3. Shelving Beams
4. Pallet Support Bars
5. Decking
6. Row Spacers
7. Anchor Feet
8. Protective Barriers

Industrial Shelving and Racking Components Diagram

Industrial Shelving and Racking Components Diagram

Each one of these components will have its own strength rating, although when utilized within the racking or shelving framework create an increased load capacity. Capacities of shelving and racking differ depending on the materials used to make them. Common single shelf capacities range from 200kg (uniformly distributed) to in excess of 2 tonnes. Even though each shelf has its own weight limit, the bay itself will have a total limit, which should be clearly specified on safety signage.

Now equipped with the basic information, you should be able to assess the type of storage best suited to you and your teams.

If you require any assistance with your purchase our sales team will be able to help, organising a free, no obligation site visit and full quotation if necessary.

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