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With the launch of our new web site, we’ve added a blog. Here we’ll keep you updated on the latest news and trends for safety in the material handling industry. That may cover many topics, from the latest forecasts for manufacturing and material handling, updates in regulations and standards from OSHA and ANSI, as well as some of our safety gate installations and custom work.

On the blog you’ll also find updates from some of the organizations we belong to, like MHEDA and MHI, as well as MHI’s ProGMA Committee.

We’re looking forward to sharing our news and views with you, and if there is a topic you would like us to touch on, just let us know.

Safety gates for pallet flow lanes

Safety Equipment Priorities for New Facilities

A building boom has swept the country over the last year; many companies are purchasing or building new facilities for distribution and manufacturing. New facilities come with a clean slate in terms of designing the perfect systems for your company’s applications. It also means a slew of new equipment will be getting set up in your facility.

When it comes to safety, starting fresh with a new facility is the best option. Safety can be built right into each system where it is needed, so employees will be safe from day one. Machine guarding, netting and safety gates all should be considered and made part of the plan for equipment.

While there are many places that will need safety equipment, according to ANSI standards, fall protection systems will be needed for any elevated work platform over 36 inches. Expect that multiple elevated work platforms will be featured in your new facility, and here are three areas that need fall protection systems installed before operations start.

Elevated Pallet Drop Ledges

Take a look around at all of the pallet drop areas in the new facility. OSHA and ANSI standards mandate that a barrier be in place at all times during the operation, even while pallets are being loaded, staged or worked on. The best method for meeting this safety requirement is a dual-gate system that always keeps one gate closed. There are many different models and designs of these systems; each has a gate at the ledge that is connected to a second gate behind the pallet and configured so when one gate is open the opposite gate is closed. Fixed stanchions on the side create a controlled-access area. These systems are typically manually operated but can be powered for remote access by the lift truck operator.

Pick modules are multiple level systems used to store inventory and to pick items for order fulfillment. By design, these systems place pallets and people on elevated levels. One of the main safety requirements is creating a fall protection barrier while employees on these elevated levels are picking items off of the pallets or stacking empty pallets to be removed. Like elevated work platforms or mezzanines, rack supported pick modules need fall protection systems. Dual-gate systems work very well in pick modules, and often can be in a rack-supported design.

Pallet Flow Lanes

The two main injuries we hear about in pallet flow applications are people falling from the upper levels and pallet loads being pushed into the legs of employees when they are working in the lane. If designed correctly, a dual-gate safety system can create a safe environment – at times. This design uses a gate at the ledge and a second gate at the end of the lane where the picker is standing. The gates are interconnected and counterbalanced so when one gate is open, the opposite gate is closed.

Operationally, the ledge is open when the lift truck loads pallets into the lanes, which means the rear-side gate is closed, preventing employees from accessing the lane and keeping them a safe distance from the ledge. Pickers then can manually raise the rear gate, which closes the ledge gate, securing the ledge while they pick from the pallets, as well as preventing the lift truck from loading more pallets while they are in that area.

Docks and Dock Lifts

Dock operations are often the busiest place in a facility, and they pose a number of safety hazards. The operation at a loading dock traditionally consists of a tractor trailer backing up to an elevated section of the building so material can be loaded/unloaded from the trailer. When the trailer is in place the elevated area remains safe, but once the trailer drives away there is an exposed ledge at the end of the elevated loading dock. Because this ledge is elevated it needs to be secured.

The best solution is a single-gate system that the employee on the loading dock is able to raise and lock open only when the tractor trailer is in place, and automatically closes once the truck drives away from the area. This allows the operator to control when they want to open the gate, but makes sure the ledges remains secure when there is no truck in position.

Dock-lifts also provide risks for falls when employees ride them with material. Safety gates for these lifts should feature automatically closing gates, which ensures fall protection for any worker on the lift. As the lift elevates, the gates automatically close and lock into place. The gates stay closed and locked until the lift goes back to ground level, providing fall protection while the lift is raised and material is moved from the lift, truck and dock. They can be made in multiple configurations, depending on the operations of your dock.