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SEMA load notices carry weight

28 October 2015

Load signs need careful scrutiny by the customer to ensure that they actually do help protect workers from injury. Alan Worrell of SEMA’s Technical Committee clarifies end users’ responsibilities and summarises the origins and value of this key piece of signage.

Why display load signs? For safety, of course. While safety and warning signs are all around us, it’s easy to forget or to be blasé, but storage equipment carries heavy loads. A typical one-tonne pallet weighs the same as a small car. If it falls from 10m high, it’s doing about 30mph by the time it hits the ground.


All suppliers provide some safety information on load notices. What’s on the display can range from just a simple list of dos and don'ts through to the full O&M manual. It’s assumed that all operational personnel are suitably trained but load notices act as timely reminders of important points. Giving specifics of a particular installation is always useful.


Back in the 1980s, recommendations made in SEMA’s Code of Practice for the Use of Static Pallet Racking comprised a maintenance notice, a warning notice and a load notice; and some older jobs will still have these displayed. Since then, a raft of documentation in terms of EC Directives and British Standards has developed both continual guidance and uniform, safety signage.


The regulations define four types of notice of specific shape and using specific colours. Still in use today, they represent; prohibition – a sign prohibiting behaviour likely to cause a risk to health or safety (e.g. no smoking); warning – a sign giving a warning of a risk to health or safety (e.g. fire risk); an information sign (such as Muster Point) and a mandatory sign prescribing behaviour (e.g. wear ear protectors).


An official SEMA Load Notice intends to give main points to workers ‘on the shop floor’ as they carry out their duties. It conveys key pieces of specific information and delivers reminders of the most important safety messages. The SEMA Load Notice cannot offer every last piece of safety information. It is split into three main parts; general safety information, installation specific information and administrative information.


An important safety requirement, SEMA recommends that the Load Notice’s format conforms to the appropriate layout advised in its publication Load Notices (available from SEMA).


The provider of the Load Notice is supplying a notification of how to load the structure safely. As such, the supplier of the Load Notice is taking on a responsibility for the loading information provided on it. It’s the customer’s responsibility to ensure that the Load Notice conforms to Load Notices and that the correct SEMA logo is displayed. Re-located racking should have its loading integrity verified by either the OEM or through full traceability of the design parameters.


SEMA has spent almost half a century developing the know-how to maximise your assets in three ways; by capitalising on your building’s space to profitable advantage; through the design and installation of storage systems that are fit for purpose while preventing damage to items stored; and with the utmost respect for the health and safety of personnel. 


It is the British Trade Association of the Storage Equipment Industry. It is committed to promoting and extending the safe design, installation and use of storage equipment manufactured and supplied by its members.


The SEMA logo should only be used on a Load Notice that is supplied by a SEMA Member for use on a product or system manufactured or supplied by a SEMA Member.


The SEMA Distributor Company logo is used when the Load Notice is supplied by a distributor company for a structure that is supplied by an ‘SDC’ and for use on a SEMA member’s product or system.

SEMA is almost 50!

As SEMA approaches half a century of leading on and developing storage industry best practice, 2015 has been another landmark year. The importance of talking directly to end users as to how safety pays for itself has been a key initiative with a Three Steps to Safety campaign; the importance of safe storage design, safe installation and post installation inspection and safe maintenance routines, has been widely aired.

Members of all SEMA groups are on-side, getting the message out there that by specifying SEMA, a buyer can be confident that safe efficient storage comes as standard. Visit www.sema.org.uk in early 2016 as a fresh new website with improved architecture and navigation will offer greater accessibility to essential information. A best practice video focussing on SEMA Approved Installation Companies (SAICs) will also go live in early 2016.

SEMA’s two annual events, the SEMA Standards Seminar and the SEMA Safety Conference were well attended and included presentations from statutory authorities, SEMA’s own technical committee and visiting speakers. IN 2016, the SEMA Standards Seminar takes place on 8th June and the SEMA Safety Conference on 3rd November.

The updated SEMA Cantilever Code of Practice has been published and a new cantilever module to the SARI qualification (SEMA’s approved rack inspectors) has been launched. SEMA’s also working on new proposed installation guidelines for APR and pallet safety gates on mezzanines.

April’s new CDM regulations are causing some end-user consternation as clients are now regarded as the head of the procurement chain and the major influence on project standards and culture. A project is deemed to be more than a construction site.

To keep its own members up to speed, SEMA organised a CDM presentation from Tony Mitchell, a Principal Inspector at the HSE at its first SEMA Group Combined Meeting in September. ASDA’s Safety, Health and Environmental Manager, Neil Sheehan outlined at the November conference how ASDA has implemented the new legislation. 

SEMA is also supporting end users with a rack maintenance course which covers the difference between maintenance and repair, the skills required to replace racking components and how to replace them. It also covers hazard and risk assessments and relevant legislation. A rack safety awareness course looks in-depth at the need for rack inspections, conducting assessments and follow-on procedures.

2015 is the first year that SEMA Distributor Companies have all been able to prove their capabilities by displaying their Audit Certificate. Unsurprisingly, there’s been a growth in membership from similar quality firms recognising value in membership.

SEMA and SEIRS courses enjoy both CSCS and RoSPA approval and there’s recognition that SEIRS is the only industry based training programme which makes refresher courses mandatory. There’s a new SEIRS course on shelving to service the growth in e-commerce. SEMA’s latest ToolBox talk is on Hard Hats and these site briefings now number 40+.