Facility Safety: Prepared or Lucky?
If you are like most safety managers in material handling and manufacturing operations, you likely take pride in your safety record. Having no incidents on your watch is great, and what should happen. But, just because you haven’t had an incident doesn’t mean that your facility has the proper safety guarding in place. It could just mean that you’ve been lucky.
Luck can run out. If you haven’t done a safety check in a while, or if you have an older facility, it’s good to review areas and applications on a bi-annual basis. We worked with a large chemical company with an old facility. They never have had a serious safety incident, and wanted to keep it that way. Although their operation of lifting items up to elevated platforms hadn’t changed, they decided to proactively review and secure these pallet drop areas to prevent something bad from happening.
The company reached out to us, and our team did an initial review of their facility, looking at over 50 areas in which they have employees working with materials, often on elevated platforms. In the walkthrough, the customer identified about 15 of the areas that would be closed down because they were no longer required. Our team was tasked with securing the remaining areas with dual-gate safety systems to ensure a barrier is in place at all times, even while pallets are in the process of being loaded, unloaded and staged.
Chemical company environments often feature tight quarters on elevated platforms coupled with processes that require repetitive lifting of heavy material in a dusty, hot environment poses employee risk of falling from unguarded ledges during loading and unloading operations without proper protection. Because each area in the facility had its own unique process and space limitations, specific fall protection solutions were designed for each area.
There were a few areas in the facility in which overhead hoists were loading super sacks to elevated areas so employees could mix the ingredients into the hoppers. Our Open Top safety gate model was the fall protection solution for these areas because this design uses an interconnected dual-gate system without any overhead mechanics that ensures one gate is always protecting the employees from the ledge. This allowed the hoist to access the area from above while keeping the employee a safe distance from the ledge.
A few of the areas that were using an overhead hoist required side access to the material, so we designed the Open Top model in a ninety-degree configuration. For the areas that featured wash-down environments, we supplied the safety gates in a stainless steel construction.
Our Tri-Side model was used to secure other areas that were loaded by a lift truck but had limited depth due to the location of the hoppers. This model uses a cantilevered rear-side gate that lifts up and out of the way to allow access around the pallet in tight environments while always keeping the ledge secured.
Another area had limited height but was used for loading tall pallet loads. We supplied a custom designed version of our Pivot Model, adjusting the pivot point locations to fit the space constraints while accommodating the pallet sizes.
The end user requested that a few areas use gates that could be operated from the lift truck on the ground level. For those areas we power operated Roly safety gates with commercial garage door operators that could be controlled via radio frequency remotes. The system included photo eyes and other built in safety features to create the safest environment.
At our facility, the safety solutions for each area being secured in the facility were packaged in individual crates. This made for easy installation, as each system was labeled and delivered to the right area in the facility. With the installation of the gates, the safety manager can continue to expect a no-incident record, without having to rely on luck.