The issue of safe racking in warehouses was highlighted earlier this year when two companies were heavily fined after an incident in 2016, when a worker suffered serious head injuries after he fell carrying out work.
A Magistrates Court in Liverpool imposed the penalties when it heard that the employee tumbled onto a concrete floor from a height of 10 metres.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors found that no safe system of work was in place and that there were no physical barriers in place to prevent anyone from falling – nor was a fall arrest system utilised that would be effective enough to prevent the injuries sustained.
Significantly for companies using such racking installations, the HSE has safety guidelines to help avoid such accidents.
Companies are likely to look closely at their own installations in the wake of the verdict and ensure that in future they choose the right provider for their warehouse. When looking for providers of racking Ireland has several options such as rackzone.ie/pallet-racking.
Firms will be keen to take on board the comments of the HSE inspector, which reflected the fact that safe working methods must be in place which ensure that workers have the necessary information, training and instructions on how to carry the work out safely.
The HSE spokesperson said that had such a system been in place prior to the incident, the serious injuries sustained by the worker could have been avoided.
The fact that a main contractor and a sub-contractor were involved in the work seems to have added to the confusion over who was carrying out risk assessments on working heights to ensure the health and safety of employees.
The main contractor, Ortec BV of the Netherlands, pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined £300,000 with additional costs of £4,742.75. Meanwhile, sub-contractor Mechantech Limited of Rossington, Doncaster, were fined £36,666 with costs of £4,742.75 under the same Act.
HSE guidelines come in the form of documents issued by the executive, offering advice on occupational safety. The documents are not legally binding, but they do highlight occupational safety legislation within a particular industry.
The most relevant HSE document on warehouse storage and racking can be found in HSG76, which explains how to operate a warehouse and advice on racking inspection maintenance.