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July 8, 2015

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SEMA seminar: everything you need to know

By Justin O’Sullivan

For anybody concerned about health and safety in warehouses, the SEMA seminar is a big event. This year was no different as recently appointed president Matt Grierson outlined his plans to deliver on his “zero accident” promise with updated codes, a strengthened relationship with HSE, and an emphasis on the environment. At the event were Steve Hall, Mike Savage, Nick Betteley, and Steve Cowen of SEMA’s technical committee. Wayne Wiggins, SEMA’s Distributor Company Assessor was also there alongside Ian Phillips from QCS International.

SEMA revealed two major code changes at the event. The first was concerned with cantilever racking and the second addressed physical racking protection. Nick Betteley talked about the new cantilever codes, stating that clearances relating to unit loads, sloping floors and bays were all updated. It was also explained that he HSE’s publication ‘Warehousing and storage: A guide to health and safety’ is commonly misinterpreted. The misconception is that racking protection should simply be physical. This is not the case as it was announced that other measures, such as regular checks, are needed to ensure the protection of racking.

The technical committee in attendance explained how the use of digital office equipment now means that codes can be updated faster and without the use of paper. This is not only a much easier way of doing things, but it is also better for the environment. Ian Phillips added to the eco-friendly theme by delivering a presentation on improving environmental standards after making the trip from Scotland to the Midlands for the seminar.

Looking to next year, SEMA want to turn their ‘Guide to Method Statements’ for the installation of storage equipment into a formal Code of Practice. SEMA also announced that this formal code, if it comes to pass, will be legally enforced by HSE.

SEMA confessed that they have had problems acquiring input from the needed experts; without this, SEMA cannot complete this code. Other related news is that SEMA’s plan comes at a time HSE have released a report claiming they have reduced regulations by 84%. If HSE’s intentions are to keep reducing regulations for next year, then SEMA will struggle to turn their code into law. On the other hand, HSE’s lower budget could see SEMA take on more responsibilities. Next June will see another SEMA seminar and SEMA plan to accomplish their task by then; the entire British warehousing and storage industry will be interested to see what happens.

Justin O’Sullivan is the owner of SEMA Racking Inspections and has a lot of writing experience in the construction industry.

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