Racking – Requirements for end-users in South Africa


Stacking refers to the building of stacks which consist of successive tiers, one on top of the other. Shelving or racking are terms used to organise the stacking process and mitigate the risk of stacks falling over. For the purpose of this document racking as applied in warehouses will be used.


Statutory Requirements

The only statutory reference in the Occupational Health & Safety Act, Act 85 of 1993 (OHSAct) is in General Safety Regulations 8 (GSR8) which is very general with no specific reference to issues of risk assessment or inspections. However, GSR2 states that every employer and every user of machinery shall make an evaluation of the risk attached to any condition or situation which may arise from the activities of such employer or user. Based on this, OHSAS 18001 Health and Safety Standard requires that an organization shall implement procedures to cover situations where the absence could lead to deviations from the OH&S policy and objectives.

Not withstanding the requirements mentioned above, there are no National Standard (SANS) addressing racking. Europe is currently working on a set of standards but will not be finished for quite a while. Due to their Machinery Directive, all the requirements set out in the standards might not be applicable to our conditions.

The only other “applicable” source of information is from the Storage Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (SEMA) based in the UK. They have several Codes of Practice and Guidelines addressing the safe design, installation and use of storage equipment. A summary of their recommended practices follows.

User Responsibilities

1.        The installation of the racking should be in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements.

2.        The use of the equipment should be according to the load notices provided by the Supplier.

3.        Regular inspections should be performed.

4.        Any damaged component should be taken out and repaired by suitably trained personnel according to Figure 1 Damage classification flowchart.

5.        Personnel should be trained and competent in the use of material handling equipment such as lift trucks.

6.        The user must ensure that the pallets are in good condition, are appropriate for the racking system provided, and loads are correctly stacked on pallets.

7.        No alterations shall be made without the approval of the manufacturer or supplier.

8.        End frame protectors should be installed for truck operated racking.

9.        The warehouse should be adequately lit to allow safe use of lift trucks and the handling pallets.

10       Unacceptable practices are :

10.1    To position a pallet against the rack upright or beam end connector.

10.2    To nudge one pallet with another in an attempt to move or re-align loads

10.3    Drag or slide pallets on or against support beams or structure.


Regular inspections of the racking is required using the 3 level hierarchical approach :

1.        Damage inspection

All warehouse personnel should be trained to identify damage immediately to ensure proper action is taken immediately to ensure the safety of al involved. Refer to Figure 1 for guidance.
2.        Weekly inspections from ground level

Warehouse supervisors should undertake regular documented inspections to identify and act upon any damage. This inspection should be carried out weekly, but the frequency may be varied according to particular operational conditions.

The following safety items should be included :

1.        Incorrect location of beam connectors

2.        Looseness of floor connections

3.        Dislodgement of accessories

4.        Spillage of goods

5.        Floor soiling

6.        Lift truck deficiencies

7.        Missing beam connector locks

8.        Missing row spacers

9.        Wrong type of pallets

10.      Incorrect location of the loads on the pallets

11.      Incorrect location of the position of the pallets on the racking/floor

12.      Incorrect load and information notices

13.      Overloading

14.      Instability of unit loads (load to be placed in one operation)

15.      Incorrect size of unit loads

3.        Annual/bi-annual inspection

The inspection should be carried out by a “technically competent” person and shall include the following :

1.        Vertical beam deflection when loaded

2.        Vertical beam deflection unloaded

3.        Lateral beam deformation when unloaded

4.        Beam end connector damage

5.        Beam end connector locks

6.        Uprights

7.        Bracing

8.        Base plate

9.        Rack protection

10.      Row spacer

11.      Height to depth ratios

12.      Ties to building (if applicable)