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Safe as warehouses

Racking has often been the overlooked feature of the warehouse but its safety and suitability is coming under increasing scrutiny from regulators. FTA offers a major new service to help companies meet their corporate obligations in this vital area.

Racking ¡V how many of us give it a second thought? Until, that is, there is a major collapse leading to damage to the warehouse, stock or, even worse, injury or loss of life.
While there is specific legislation requiring warehouse lifting equipment such as fork lift trucks to be inspected regularly ¡V and indeed, FTA already successfully offers such a service ¡V inspection of ¡¥static¡¦ equipment has tended to be covered by more general health and safety rules, notably the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER)1998. Poorly maintained racking only tends to become a serious issue once an incident has occurred.
It is, nevertheless, an area of growing importance and one that managers in industry are becoming more aware of with the increasing emphasis on safety, corporate liability and costs. ¡§It¡¦s surprising the number of companies who are unsure about their corporate responsibilities in this area, and don¡¦t realise that in order to comply with the PUWER regulations their storage installations should be subject to a periodic inspection regime,¡¨ explains FTA Operations Manager, John Webb.
Until recently, it has been almost impossible to find a fully independent audit service for racking systems, as virtually all of the inspection service providers are in some way linked to companies that have a financial interest in repairing or selling replacement racking equipment. FTA has no such links because it just audits and gives accurate information that businesses need.
Designed along similar lines to its existing UKAS accredited vehicle and forklift truck inspection services, FTA offers a fully independent professional audit service, applying the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) guidelines, to give customers impartial advice on the safety compliance of their equipment.
FTA engineers will check all aspects of the storage structure for condition and damage, including uprights, floor fixings, beams, beam end connector locks, frame bracing, column guards and safety notices. As well as noting damage to the structure, the audit will also offer comment on other general items that may potentially affect the operational safety in the storage area, such items as lighting levels, floor condition and general housekeeping.

On completion of the inspection, the engineer will produce a bespoke inspection report, and discuss and explain the findings. FTA¡¦s audit software also allows the engineer to follow up with a colour coded floor plan of the storage facility, indicating defect severity and specific location. This, along with straightforward advice from the engineer, will leave users with a clear understanding of any works required to maintain compliance.
¡§Uniquely, FTA offer an independent service by qualified engineers so that customers can be certain that their compliance advice is comprehensive, giving them clear indication of any necessary remedial actions,¡¨ says Webb.
For further information contact 08717 11 22 22 or e-mail info@fta.co.uk or visit www.fta.co.uk/racking

How the inspections work
The engineer will normally carry out the inspection from the ground level, noting the structural condition and security of uprights, fixings, support beams, frame bracing and so on. He will also note general operational observations, including such items as local lighting, floor condition, housekeeping or even badly positioned pallets. If required by prior arrangement, inspections can also be carried out at height, using appropriate access equipment available on site.
n The report includes an appropriately sized, easy to read colour coded storage floor plan. Defects are marked and coded as ¡¥Red¡¦ (remove any load and repair immediately), ¡¥Amber¡¦ (do not reload the location and repair within four weeks) and ¡¥Green¡¦ (defect observed but no immediate need for repair).
n External Inspections, part of the continuous on-site inspection regime, can be as often as the customer desires. In most cases, annual or bi-annual external inspections will suffice for PUWER compliance, but inspection frequency can be increased, especially in severe / aggressive environments. For fully automated warehouses, inspections can be tailored to suit the application and activity level.
n Smaller, simply laid out warehouses can be inspected within a half day with larger more complex facilities such as supermarket RDCs etc. possibly running into a number of days. In most cases, inspection engineers can work while the warehouse is operating and hours can be flexible to suit the customer¡¦s needs.

A dedicated team of qualified inspection engineers covers the entire UK, including Ireland.

A further advantage of FTA¡¦s service for small storage installations, is that the racking inspection engineer is also qualified to inspect forklift trucks and similar lifting equipment as requested ¡V potentially avoiding the additional cost for separate visits.

FTA can also audit the quality of installation and storage system repairs carried out by third parties.

Pricing is very competitive for this fully independent inspection service, which provides information about the condition of the racking installation, and advises on any necessary action required to ensure the installation remains safe, and compliant with industry regulations, and at corporate level, that the company will be seen to be managing its corporate obligation.

FTA auditing & inspection services
ƒÞ 40 years¡¦ experience.
ƒÞ Around 60,000 inspections and 2,000 audits in a typical six month period.
ƒÞ Checks the safety, legality and performance of vehicles, forklift trucks, mechanical handling equipment and maintenance systems and procedures.

The legal / Corporate Responsibility position
Racking inspections are not a specific legal requirement but they are covered by existing legislation and regulations. These include:
ƒÞ The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
ƒÞ The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
ƒÞ The Provision and User of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998.
ƒÞ The Manual Handling Regulations 1992.
ƒÞ The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

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