New Codes, The Environment and The Future: Insights from the June 2015 SEMA Seminar

At this year’s seminar, SEMA showed the British construction industry that they are looking to the road ahead.

Last year’s seminar centred around the theme of “Zero Harm”, and while this year’s seminar was also focused on that aim, there was much talk about improving standards elsewhere too. SEMA’s new president Matt Grierson, a man who once claimed that he wanted the construction industry to be a “zero-accident place to work”, was in attendance along with four members of SEMA’s technical committee. Ian Phillips from QCS international was also there, after making the long trip from Glasgow, and so was Wayne Wiggins, SEMA’s Distributor Company Assessor.

SEMA’s technical committee explained that the use of digital office equipment now means that codes can be updated more efficiently. Rather than printing off thousands of sheets of paper, the ability to produce codes digitally is cheap, quick and better for the environment. Ian Phillips expanded on the environmental theme and gave an in-depth presentation on how environmental practice will shape the construction business. This emphasised SEMA’s pro-environment attitude for the coming years.

One of the new codes introduced was about racking protection. It states that it should be installed on end frames, corner uprights and exposed frames on bridge bays. Added to this, the idea of racking protection was also clarified. HSE’s publication ‘Warehousing and storage: A guide to health and safety’ says that  “where racking is likely to be struck by lift trucks and other vehicles, it should be protected.” It was revealed that this sentence should not be interpreted simply to mean physical protection but that preventative measures, such as regular racking inspection, should also be in place to ensure that physical protection is the last resort.

SEMA’s future plan is to make the installation of storage equipment safer, and to strengthen their relationship with HSE, by turning their ‘Guide to Method Statements’ into a formal code that HSE has promised to enforce as law. Yet SEMA has conceded that making this a reality has proven more difficult than previously anticipated. They require input and time from professionals in the industry in order to formalise their code but have struggled with this.

Another challenge SEMA recognise is that this code will need to take into account the fact that there are many different ways of installing storage equipment safely. SEMA codes are a benchmark for safety and SEMA understands there may be alternative racking installation and maintenance methods that deliver acceptable results.

The plan is to turn this guide into law over the next 12 months which should be just in time for the June 2016 SEMA seminar. All eyes will be on SEMA over the coming year to see if they accomplish their goals.

Justin O’Sullivan is the only SEMA Approved Inspector based within London. With over 25 years of experience within the storage equipment industry, Justin provides pallet racking inspections and training for SME’s through the South East of England. For more information, visit www.semarackinginspections.co.uk.

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