Racking the changes

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McKenzie says construction is a booming industry but is one that “remains undeniably dangerous and all too often demonstrates the unacceptable human cost of getting things wrong”.

Chris Paterson of Link 51’s contract control department, says the new regulations will affect companies implementing systems as the Health and Safety Executive classifies the installation of racking as a construction project.

The revised regulations work to bring together the Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) regulations 1996 and the CDM 1994 rules into one package.

One of the most significant changes, the planning supervisor role which is usually appointed from a client’s agent, has been scrapped. In the past, this role allowed companies legally to abdicate health and safety responsibilities to a third party.

That role will now be filled by a co-ordinator which will be introduced to assist in planning and designing and to prepare the health and safety file. Any warehouse or distribution centre considering changing its storage and racking structure, will likely come into contact with the regulations as the revised rules will apply to all designed construction projects lasting more than 30 days.

Paterson says: “The CDM regulations are part of the Health and Safety at Work Act and, as such, come under the auspices of the Health and Safety Executive. They are aimed at improving the overall management and co-ordination of health and welfare strategies on construction sites and, although your warehouse may not feel like a building site, the HSE classifies the installation of racking as a construction project.


“The CDM Regulations place duties on all those who can contribute to the health and safety of a construction scheme – including clients, designers, contractors and planning supervisors – and require the production of certain documents, such as the health and safety plan and a health and safety file,” he says.

To comply with the rules, client companies must ensure that a health and safety plan has been developed before any sort of construction work actually begins.

A health and safety file that is available for inspection at any given time must also be produced. “For racking installation projects, the degree of detail as well as the time and effort required to comply with the legal duties imposed by CDM regulations will be in proportion to the nature, size and level of health and safety risks involved in the project,” says Paterson.

“Therefore for small projects with minimal accident potential, companies are only required to take relatively simple, straightforward steps and few, if any, specialist skills will be needed.”


However, he warns that when it comes to larger racking projects that may involve several different contractors being on site at the same time, such as lighting engineers, sprinkler fitters as well as the racking installers, it is essential that consideration is given to the CDM regulations from the start of the project.

The Forum of Private Business, strongly opposed the revision to the rules saying the new regulations would “pass responsibilities from the construction firm to the business having the work carried out.”

The changes have also been opposed by conservative leader David Cameron who tabled a motion opposing the proposals.

Victoria Carson, campaigns manager for the Forum says: “We believe that the current system of planning permission and building regulations can deliver safety, particularly in design, without passing undue burden onto the client. There is no need for the additional regulations.”

She says it would be “a nightmare” for smaller businesses.

The full effect of the new regulations is yet to be felt and for now the sector continues to move ahead.

It recently launched a completely new range of pallet racking, with a racking profile engineered from a single piece of steel.

Bito says this results in significantly improved weight loading and allows the company to offer product guarantees that many other racking suppliers simply cannot match.

The range comprises ten different racking profiles – each offering a specific weight loading and structural capability.


Managing director Edward Hutchison says: “In the modern market most end users prefer a single point of supply so it is important for us to offer a full range of racking and shelving products. The launch of the new racking system enables us to do just this.”

The racking complies with all relevant DIN and FEM standards and will be produced at Bito’s manufacturing plant at Meisenheim in Germany.

SSI Schaefer has installed two Mobile Cantilever systems for Richard Austin Alloys.

The system encompasses mobile and static racking, providing storage for over 4,000 tonnes of goods with each mobile rack being capable of accommodating 500 tonnes.

SSI says that the system provides an 80 per cent saving of floor space over conventional wide-aisle static storage methods.

Austin recently extended its Manchester warehouse to keep up with customer demands.

The installed racking system had to make the best use of available space, while at the same time allowing instant access to every product.

SSI Schaefer installed two systems, one located in the new extension with the other being placed within the existing warehouse.

John Dixon, mobile racking specialist for SSI Schaefer, said it took a team of specialist design estimators, structural engineers, project managers and after sales engineers to provided RA Alloys with a clean installation that offered the best solution for its current needs.

Austin has subsequently ordered a further system for another of its UK depots.


After Armoric Freight moved into its new 20,000 sq ft facility in Langage industrial estate, it needed someone to help it sort out its increasing storage needs. “Our plan is to develop the storage side of our business,” says managing director Marc Payne.

“We put the racking solution for our new warehouse out to tender and we found Linpac’s designs were very specific, making the most efficient use of the available space and this filled us with confidence to buy into their proposal.”

The bespoke design has two differing heights of pallet storage, offering up to four levels of storage to profile the roofline of the warehouse.

The racking is laid out in double runs in a narrow aisle configuration suitable for a Flexi-truck.

Two drive through bays through the centre of the racking act as transfer aisles to help the efficient movement of pallets into and out of the racking structure.

Steel decking has been used above the drive-through bays for overhead protection.

Armoric Freight offers storage for both ambient and dry goods.


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