Guide to... Rack Safety Inspections


"Never, it was installed 5 years ago, looks new and we look after it! We've not had any problems since then...". A response we often receive when asking prospective clients when they last had their storage systems inspected. Often racking end users aren't aware of their obligations to have their racking inspected. And that's why we've put together our SEC Storage Guide to... Pallet Racking Safety Inspections.

What are rack safety inspections?

A rack safety inspection (or rack damage survey) is an assessment of the condition of your pallet racking, mezzanine floors and all types of other storage systems that are at risk of damage i.e. where a forklift truck or materials handling equipment operates. The inspection should:


  • Assess damage or where there is a risk of racking being damaged
  • To ensure your operation, and the racking systems are conforming to local codes & legislation
  • To help identify the racking load which is required under legislation


There are various Levels of Inspection which should be carried out and at different intervals. All with the aim of minimising risk to you, your business and your employees.

Large racking installation to be inspected!

Why should I have a racking inspection carried out?

Other than to ensure your business is not affected by the possible consequences of a racking collapse, including injury or worse to your staff, it is required by UK legislation!


The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) "Warehouse & Storage: Keeping it safe (INDG412)" states:

If you use pallet racking in your warehouse, make sure the pallets you use are suitable for the type of racking you have.


Racking systems should be properly designed and installed, this includes being able to safely take the load of the goods being stored. Protect racking if it is likely to be struck by lift trucks and other vehicles.


Inspect racking regularly to make sure it is repaired and maintained properly and is safe. You should use three types of inspection:


  • immediate reporting of damage and defects;
  • visual inspections at regular intervals; and...
  • "expert" inspections carried out at intervals by a competent person

See more about the Levels of Inspection below...

What are the racking inspection laws and legal requirements?

Racking inspection guidelines state that racking should conform with the major UK health and safety acts. Racking systems (remember all this applies to shelving systems, cantilever racking & other storage equipment, including mezzanine floors) are classed as work equipment. Therefore as an employer or person responsible for warehouse safety, you could be liable for prosecution under the following acts:


  • Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
  • Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • EN15635 Steel Static Storage Systems - Application and Maintenance of Storage Equipment
Pallet racking inspection legislation

Levels of Inspection - 1, 2 and 3

The HSE set out in the "Warehousing and Storage: A Guide to Health and Safety (HSG76)" the following: 

To ensure that a racking installation continues to be serviceable and safe, the storage equipment should be inspected on a regular basis.


The frequency of inspections depends on a variety of factors that are particular to the site concerned and should be determined by a nominated 'person responsible for racking safety' (PRRS) to suit the operating conditions of the warehouse.


This will take into account the frequency and method of operation together with the dimensions of the warehouse, the equipment used and personnel involved, all of which could damage the structure. The inspection follows a hierarchical approach using several levels of inspection.


As soon as a safety problem or damage is observed by any employee, it should immediately be reported to the PRRS. You should have systems in place for reporting damage and defects.


Level 1 - Immediate Reporting


As soon as a safety problem or damage is observed by any employee, it should immediately be reported to the PRRS. You should have systems in place for reporting damage and defects.


Employees should receive training, information and instruction on the safe operation of the racking system, including the parts affecting their safety and the safety of others. 


Employees should be encouraged to report damage and know they won't be penalised because accidents do happen!


Level 2 - Visual Inspections


The PRRS should ensure that inspections are made at weekly or other regular intervals based on risk assessment. A formal written record should be maintained. 


A 'person responsible for rack safety' (PRRS) could be any person within a warehouse, who has experience in identifying racking damage.


We offer rack awareness training courses so you have the suitable knowledge to become a PRRS! Click here to contact us and get a quote.


Level 3 - "Expert" Inspections


A technically competent person should carry out inspections at intervals of not more than 12 months. A written report should be submitted to the PRRS with observations and proposals for any action necessary.


A technically competent person might be a trained specialist within an organisation, a specialist from the rack supplier, or an independent qualified rack inspector, such as a SEMA Approved Rack Inspector (SARI).


Buy and book your racking inspection online at SEC Direct!

What's an "Expert" Inspection and who's competent?

This is probably the most undefined area when it comes to racking inspections. Without any qualifications or certification stated, it is difficult to determine who is "competent". For example, having worked in a warehouse for over 30 years, responsible for new installations over this period following 3 company moves, one could deem you competent.


HOWEVER, you do not have the specific skills and ability to inspect racking at the industry recognised level of a SEMA Approved Rack Inspector; or SARI for short. Firstly, SEMA stands for the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association. They are the industry trade association for racking manufacturers. They are "an organisation committed to promoting and extending the safe design, installation and use of storage equipment manufactured and supplied by its members".


An inspection by a SARI or a "SEMA Inspection" is the industry recognised standard for racking inspections and their reports can be used as evidence of safe practice, alongside being used as evidence for the HSE.

Ensure you have your racking inspected annually by a SARI

An "Expert" SARI Inspection explained

An expert inspection conforms to the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) "Guide to the Conduct of Pallet Racking and Shelving Surveys". The guidelines assess damage to uprights, bracing members and beams according to set tolerances.


A SEMA inspection is much more detailed than a Level 2 Visual Inspection that you should carry out in house. It will comment on the necessity for repair or replacement of any damaged components according to the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Code of Practice relating to racking damage.


The inspections ARE NOT intended to confirm the structural integrity or guarantee the capabilities of the racking. In the unlikely event that such confirmation is required, this will need to come from the technical department of the relevant manufacturer.


The SEMA Guide classifies damage into the following three categories:




These are items which are severely damaged well beyond the limitations of the SEMA Code. In such circumstances, the racking should be immediately Off-Loaded and isolated from future use until repair work is carried out.




These items are damaged beyond the limitations of the SEMA Code, but not sufficiently serious to warrant immediate Off-Load of the rack. The rack should be Off-Loaded as soon as possible but normally within 4 weeks, and should not be re-used until repair work is carried out.




These are items which are damaged but are within the limitations of the SEMA Code. Such items would be recorded as being still suitable for use but be identified for future reference and monitoring.

"But we haven't got that much racking! Do I still need an inspection?"


The short answer, is YES! You will notice that any documentation from SEMA or the HSE do not distinguish between a warehouse with 10 pallet positions or 10,000 pallet positions!


Regardless of your warehouse pallet racking size, you should have your storage systems "inspected at least annually by a competent person" and only your internal risk assessments can deem the competency of that person suitable. Note competency is defined as the following:


  • Trained specialist within an organisation
  • A specialist from the rack supplier
  • An independent qualified rack inspector


What you may wish to alter is the intervals at which you carry out a Level 2 Visual Inspection. Only your internal risk assessment can determine this.

Even small pallet racking installations need inspecting!

How can SEC Storage help you with your inspections?


We can provide you with a Level 3 "Expert Inspection" from £550 + VAT!


Our Level 3 "Expert" Inspection is carried out by a fully independent SEMA Approved Rack Inspector (SARI). As they are a qualified SARI they have the duty to remain impartial. We simply liaise and organise with the inspector on your behalf. This is a more formal survey, which involves a comprehensive report detailing all storage equipment and graded on the traffic light scale as detailed above.


The survey will also make comment on additional procedures and conditions relevant to safety with regard to the racking i.e. load notices that are missing, incorrect pallets for storage application.


The cost of such survey depends on the number of pallet locations and condition of the storage area i.e. ambient, chilled or freeze stored.


We recommend that a SEMA survey is carried out at least annually and can even organise a contract for inspections to be carried out over a number of years, with a discount involved!


If you have a specific rack inspection query, complete our form below and we'll respond as soon as we can! Alternatively you can buy and book your inspection online at!


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General Rack Inspection FAQ


Do I have to inform SEMA of racking changes?

As long as your racking is safely assembled and installed according to SEMA Guidelines, you do not need to notify SEMA of any changes you make to your racking configuration. It is recommend that you have your racking inspected at least annually by a SEMA Approved Rack Inspector (SARI) along with regular visual inspection checks.



Do I need to be SEMA qualified to install racking?

No, you do not. However, it is strongly advised that you use installers that hold the Storage Equipment Installers Registration Scheme (SEIRS) qualification to install your pallet racking and storage systems. Mainly, because safety is of the utmost importance and a pallet racking system that is incorrectly installed can cause a serious accident if it is not assembled correctly.



What does a racking inspection report look like?

The report begins by detailing the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) guidelines; it will then highlight the various forms of storage systems that have been inspected, for example pallet racking, cantilever racking and mezzanine floors. Finally the location, manufacturer and description of the damage identified and action recommendations to follow up on based on a Red, Amber, Green traffic light risk scaling. You can view a sample rack inspection report here.



Does the HSE state that warehouse racking needs to be checked?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that you should carry out three levels of checking. Immediate reporting of damage and defects, visual inspections at regular intervals and an expert inspection carried out at least annually by a competent person. The highest level of expertise and competency is a SEMA Approved Rack Inspector, or SARI for short.



Does shelving require a SEMA inspection?

All storage equipment, including shelving is classed as work equipment under the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998. Therefore shelving does require a regular inspection to ensure it is safe, particularly if it is in the vicinty of where materials handling equipment such as forklifts is used because damage will be more common.



How often should racking be inspected?

There are no set timings that your racking should be inspected. However the HSE "Warehouse and Storage Keeping it Safe" document states that the frequency of inspection should include the immediate reporting of damage, visual inspections carried out at weekly or other regular intervals based on risk assessment, and at least once per year by a technically competent person. 



How often should a mobile racking system be inspected?

Mobile racking systems are more complex in nature than standard pallet racking and, therefore, may require more routine inspections and maintenance. Mobile racking systems are typically installed with a control panel and sometimes with remote diagnostic / troubleshooting features.Further consultation should be undertaken with the manufacturer or supplier of the system but like pallet racking, should be inspected at least annually by a competent person.



Does warehouse racking need a load sign?

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and SEMA Guidelines, all racking systems are required to have a load notice. They must also be formatted to look like a typical SEMA load notice. If your pallet racking system doe not have a sufficient load notice then it is in breach of the law and your warehouse operatives will not know what load the racking is capable of taking.