Shelving Safety Regulations & HSE Guidelines

The following information is a  guideline only and is taken from official source/s and maybe out of date at the time of this publication. It is important that if you require any updates then please visit the correct regulatory authority to obtain any additional amendments.

Storing goods and materials safely

Assess the risks of goods storage

You need to assess the risks posed by storing goods and materials and take steps to reduce them. You should consider the hazards and risks caused by storing goods and materials as part of your overall health, safety and environmental risk assessment. You also need to look at how storing materials affects the fire risks faced by your business.

Businesses with greater risk

All businesses need to consider the hazards caused by storing goods and materials. But there are some which face greater risks, such as:

  • factories
  • warehouses
  • shops
  • construction businesses
  • agricultural businesses
  • food businesses
  • any business which has to store hazardous materials such as gas cylinders and oil

Storage risk assessment

Your risk assessment must:

  • identify hazards caused by your storage of goods
  • analyse the likelihood of their occurring
  • determine who and what might be at risk

You then need to take any precautions needed to ensure all risks are minimised. You’ll also need to record your findings and remember to review your assessment regularly. Types of possible hazard you’ll need to consider include:

  • goods falling from shelving or racking
  • someone falling when climbing on shelving
  • stock or materials blocking fire exit routes
  • accumulations of used packaging
  • poor storage causing increased manual-handling risks, eg putting bulky items above head height
  • spillages of goods causing environmental damage or increasing the risk of slips and trips occurring
  • exposure to badly stored hazardous substances
  • contamination or danger caused by storing inappropriate materials together
  • the use of mechanical-handling equipment, eg loads falling from forklift trucks
  • vandalism, theft and arson causing pollution
  • flammable substances

This list shows just some examples, there may be more that apply to your business.

Safe use of shelves, racks and pallets

Most businesses use shelves to store goods and materials. Racking units are often used for storage in warehouses and factories, typically alongside pallets.

Shelving and racking

Shelving and racking must be suitable for its purpose and installed and maintained properly. Ensure that:

  • floors are sound and level
  • you follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions
  • where shelving or racking needs to be fixed to a wall, the wall can support the load
  • where appropriate, special safety ladders are provided to avoid people climbing on shelving
  • units are spaced correctly to allow easy access for staff and, if necessary, mechanical-handling equipment such as forklift trucks
  • shelves and racks are properly aligned and goods don’t overhang shelves
  • correct maximum loads for racking are displayed
  • personal protective equipment is used where necessary
  • items are stacked correctly – put the heaviest at the bottom where possible
  • materials that employees frequently need are readily accessible – for example, not above head height
  • Check shelving and racking units regularly for any obvious signs of physical or chemical damage.


If you use pallets with racking units, you should avoid:

  • using a pallet which can’t cope with its load
  • poorly designed or constructed pallets
  • using damaged pallets
  • using the wrong type of pallet for the racking system used or the material or substance stored
  • poor handling of pallets

You must use any mechanical-handling equipment, such as forklift trucks, safely. Anyone operating a forklift needs to be fully trained. People in areas where forklifts operate must be aware of the warning alarms, signs and notices and what they mean.

Safe storage of dangerous or hazardous materials

Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) you must ensure chemicals and dangerous substances are stored and handled in a way that minimises the risks and limits people’s exposure to them.

You need to assess the risks of storing and handling dangerous substances. This includes the possibility of environmental damage caused by leaks and spills.

You should then take any precautions needed to control risks, including:

  • storing chemicals according to the manufacturer’s instructions on the safety data sheet
  • keeping the minimum quantity of hazardous substances necessary
  • storing incompatible substances separately
  • taking steps to prevent release or leakage of dangerous substances
  • keeping a spill kit near to storage areas, and ensuring staff are trained in what to do in the event of a spill
  • cleaning up any leaks or spills that occur
  • using the right precautions when handling substances – for example, wearing protective clothing or ensuring adequate ventilation
  • ensuring employees who store and handle dangerous substances are properly trained
  • checking containers used for short-term storage are properly labelled

Fire and explosion risks

It’s also best practice to:

  • place stores of liquid above ground where they’re unlikely to be damaged, eg away from traffic routes
  • avoid overfilling containers
  • supervise deliveries
  • maintain gauges, valves and pipework
  • monitor oil use – unexpectedly high use may indicate a leak
  • have procedures for dealing with emergency leakages
  • use a secondary containment system such as a drip tray or bund (a storage area designed to prevent liquids escaping)

Oil storage risks

Specific laws for businesses with oil storage container apply to England and Scotland. However, businesses in Northern Ireland and Wales are strongly advised to comply with these laws to lessen the risk of causing water pollution.

Safe storage methods for waste, timber, glass and textiles

As well as dangerous or hazardous substances, there’s a range of other types of material you should store carefully.


All businesses have a duty of care to store and correctly manage the waste they create. You must store waste in suitable containers, making sure it doesn’t harm the environment or human health. When you dispose of your waste, or send it to be recovered, you must ensure it is handled by an authorised organisation. Some waste is classified as hazardous because of its dangerous or toxic nature and is subject to additional regulation.


Sawn timber and board materials need to be stacked and stored safely. This includes ensuring that stacks of timber:

  • are on firm, level ground
  • don’t exceed set height ratios
  • are inspected regularly
  • have no loose materials on top

Take prevailing winds into account when building stacks outdoors. You must regularly monitor storage areas.


Storage measures you should take include:

  • stacking glass at the correct angle
  • providing appropriate personal protective equipment where necessary
  • securing storage racks and ensuring these aren’t overloaded


Storage also requires careful consideration in the textiles industry. For example, you should:

  • store frequently used materials at a convenient height
  • plan storage areas carefully to allow for maximum possible access to materials
  • dispose of obsolete stock
  • consider mechanical methods of handling and moving bales and rolls

Agricultural materials

Storage of some agricultural materials must conform to These specify standards and durability of new or substantially altered storage facilities.

Shelving and Storage You Absolutely Need In Your Garage

Organising the garage and storing all of their belongings efficiently and to some extent even aesthetically is, for many people, a real hassle. However, there’s plenty of help available too, as one can now find tons of articles and guides and blogs going on and on about decluttering one’s garage or garage storage ideas or steps to a better looking garage. They all give you their tips and guidelines, which are basically variations of the same concept, which is simply put garage shelving.

Indeed, garage shelving units and storage systems of the sort are the key to a well organised and easy accessible garage, but what you don’t find in these universally valid guides is a clear delimitation between the storage you absolutely need to buy and the items that are just going to make your garage look better. If you want this decluttering and organising project to be easy on the wallet, then you’re probably not that interested in having your garage look like a guest house, but rather store everything that needs storing in the most efficient way. To that effect, there are only certain garage shelving systems and storage units that you actually need to buy, others that you can improvise or make for yourself and some that you can simply do without.

If you are planning a grand garage makeover, for sure you already looked for tips and steps for the project and probably noticed that they all start with the same advice: clear out your garage. It’s a good first step, but not just because it will help you sort out your things, see what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of, but also because it will help you identify what kind of units you absolutely need.

1. Free Standing Shelving Units for Garage

Regardless of what kind of space you have in your garage, if you actually keep your car inside or not or what sort of belongings you’ve gathered over the years, for sure you’ve got some heavy loads in there. They might be cans of paint, heavy tools or even your workout weights, but if you want them to be safely stored then you need garage storage shelving that features higher weight limits. Wall-fixed units can really limit you as far as loading weight is concerned, but free-standing units allow for more flexibility in that are, so if you’ve got heavy loads, then you absolutely need free standing garage storage shelving units.

2. Pulley Systems or Ceiling Hooks

Whether it’s biking, fishing or canoeing, everybody’s got their guilty holiday pleasures, things or activities that they only undertake once every blue moon. Even so, you do keep your bike or your fishing poles or even your canoe stored in the garage and if that’s the case then you absolutely need some sort of ceiling storage system. You can either go with a pulley system or with ceiling hooks, the choice largely depending on the exact items you need to store and the budget you have. Hooks may be great for bikes or ladders, but if you have a canoe or a kayak, then a pulley system is the way to go.
While it might be better, simpler and safer to buy your pulley systems, there is a type of overhead garage storage that you can probably make yourself, provided you have undertaken DIY projects before and are not a complete newbie. This type of storage refers to shelves attached to ceiling where you would be able to slide storage containers or bins. These overhead garage shelving systems will take a lot of stuff off your hands, from luggage and camping gear to coolers or clothes. If you do this yourself, you have to be careful though, as the system must not interfere with the way your garage door is operated.

3. Cabinetry

A lot of people think that there is no good point for cabinetry in a garage and that shelving is enough, but the truth is that once you get all the heavy, bulky and large items out of the way and properly stored, you will without a doubt notice that you’re left with a ton of small things that need storage. If you want to be efficient all the way, then you know small parts need proper containers as not to get mixed or spilled or anything. Cabinets have closed shelves and drawers, which means you can use separators and create storage spaces as small as needed to contain certain items, like nuts and bolts or other such bits and bobs. In addition, cabinets have doors and this means not only that you can hide ugly looking things behind them, but also less dust and humidity or other such annoying factors that you need to worry about.

Now, if you really hate the idea of cabinetry in the garage and you don’t really have items that need protection against dust or damp environments, but simply small hardware parts, then wall panels for picking bins may work for you. Whatever you decide it works best for your garage, the bottom line is that you absolutely need a small parts storage system.

As mentioned above, the type of shelving units for garage storage or the type of systems you choose to put in place greatly depend on the available space. Some garages may not allow for an overhead storage at all, while others may have only one wall available for shelving and so on. Moreover, if you only have a tiny tool shed or a very small garage, then this type of extensive organisation might as well go out the window. Instead, you need to get space-savers in place, like the overhead storage idea or garage wall shelving and racking, not in the sense of entire bays, but more in the sense of wall-fixed shelves and racks. A great idea would be angle-cut PVC pipes that can be screwed onto a wall and create the perfect storage spot for hoes, rakes or cultivators, as well as plenty of other tools.

…And if you are a handyman

All of the garage storage shelving systems mentioned above are purely intended to provide just that: storage. They will help you save space, keep your garage clean and organised and store away things you don’t need or use on a regular basis, but if you are a bit of a handyman, if you like working on the house every weekend or make all sorts of things yourself, in the garage, then there is something else you absolutely need: a workbench.

The choice of the workbench and how to squeeze it in your now organised garage depends on your handy work behaviour. If you are only an occasional DIY-er, then the best thing would be a fold-down bench that is mounted on the wall. This way, whenever you need it, you’ll have a sturdy surface to work on and, for most of the time, when not in use, it will just tuck out of the way.

On the other hand, if you do like working in your garage quite often, then you’d be better off with a workstation that can be adapted from a worktable flanked with shelves and a louvre panel or pegboard above. This will hold all your tools and work gear and will give you a cosy station to comfortably work at. There are also shelving units that can be built as short workbenches as well and they may provide you with a convenient and less expensive solution. If you’re interested in this type of workbenches and shelving.

Safety above All

Although many might get carried away with all the storage and shelving options and possibilities that reorganising the garage entails, it’s best to always keep safety at top of your mind. There are some things you really shouldn’t store in your garage for safety reasons, such as paper goods, which are basically magnets for bugs and cockroaches, or dog food, as minks and badgers or other such creatures will sniff it out.

Your garage may be a simple residential unit and not a warehouse full of shelving and racking that needs special safety regulations, but it’s still a good idea not to skimp on safety measures. If you’re one of the many who store lawn mower gas or gasoline and propane in the garage, then be sure to also have a fire extinguisher mounted in a spot that you can quickly and easily access. Moreover, if there’s a case of storing hazardous materials then you definitely need to store these in a locked cabinet, so when you’re considering shelving units for garage, take into account cabinetry for sure.

What is my racking weight limit?

One of the most common questions posed in the storage equipment industry is ‘What loading will my racking take?’ One of the most common answers to this question is ‘It depends.’ Which is true. The capacity of your racking depends on a range of factors, which makes it impossible to give a ‘standard’ answer.

1. What is the Bay Clear Entry?

What is the distance (in millimetres) between the insides of each upright – this must be measured from the front face of the rack i.e right to left along the width, NOT the depth.