On January 1, 2018, a new Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) regulation will come into effect in B.C., governing the installation, inspection, use and maintenance of steel storage racks found in storage areas of retail operations and warehouses.
The new regulations will be in Section 4.43.1, Storage Racks, in Part 4: General Conditions and provide requirements for employers to ensure the safety of their workers around storage racks
According to WorkSafeBC, moving materials on and off storage racks, either manually or using mobile equipment, puts workers at greater risk of injury due to slips, trips, falls, overexertion and being struck by falling objects. Poor maintenance, overloading and unsafe loading practices increase this risk.
New resource guides have been released to help workers and facility managers understand the new law. They offer a primer on the law, address common questions and include OHS Guideline G4.43.1 – Storage racks, which accompanies the amendment to the OHS Regulation.
The guideline offers direction to employers on how to meet their obligations in ensuring that qualified persons install, uninstall, and inspect storage racks. In order to determine how much inspection storage racks require, the employer will need to review operations and the work environment. Some factors affecting this include temperature, size of the facility and the damage and failure level of the racks.
Facilities can prepare for the new law by locating all storage racks in the workplace and determining if new regulations apply to the racks. They should start gathering information, such as the manufacturer or product identification, records of maintenance and inspection reports, to name a few.
Storage racks may require repairs or replacements and it takes time to acquire the right parts and services. However, according to WorkSafeBC, it’s expected that the employer will take necessary steps to reduce the risk to workers until such time as the rack is repaired or replaced.