Today looks at an important issue - safety in operations using forklift trucks - which has always been paramount in industrial facilities. Systems are growing more complex, and the safety and guarding solutions are more innovative than ever before. Yes, there are fewer workers driving forklift trucks due to increased automation in industrial facilities, but employees continue to work in the facility and their safety must still be one of the top priorities. The potential for serious injury still exists, especially with unmanned forklifts, and the ramifications for not creating a secure environment are severe; the potential loss of income, the facility being forced to shut down, or reputation of being an unsafe workplace are too serious of an issue. Proactive safety is a must.
Inside the facility, any elevated structure must be properly guarded. 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. This includes any elevated platforms or mezzanines in which any forklifts used to move material to and from a pallet drop area. Guardrail to secure the perimeter is often designed into the structure, but the pallet drop areas within the structure are a major hazard and must be properly secured.
A dual-gate system should be installed to ensure a barrier is in place at all times – even while the pallet is being loaded or unloaded by the forklift. Dual gate systems can be configured in many different designs; 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 can be powered for remote access by the forklift truck operator or unmanned vehicles.
A properly designed dual-gate system will not depend on the operator to ensure the barrier is in place at times and will ensure code compliance, and can be designed to fit your specific space limitations and workflow. And don’t forget, even if you are using automated forklift trucks to load these areas, employees are often still on the upper levels, moving or picking the pallets, and the areas should be guarded with a dual-gate system.
The original dual-gate system, the Roly® Safety Gate, is often the best choice for fall protection in most applications, as the gates never extend into the lift truck or picking aisle, and if in a pick module, does not interfere with the forklift truck loading the upper levels. The gates open and close within the confines of the pallet drop area so the gate at the ledge opens and closes flush with the ledge and the rear gate is flush with the rear uprights of the system. Tri-Side safety gate models are also popular for areas loaded by a forklift truck with limited depth. This design 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.
Safety gates must be rugged to withstand the potential impact that a forklift truck can have on them while loading or unloading material. Every one of our safety gate models is constructed from square tubular steel - either powder-coated mild or electro-polished stainless. The rugged steel construction ensures that the safety gate can be used in any environment and can hold up through daily use even when encountering the a forklift truck. Additionally, we provide impact plates on posts to minimize the damage the impact of a lift truck while it’s loading or unloading pallets to that area.
Remember that these safety precautions in forklift truck operations should be practiced every day, not just on June 11. If you have questions on how to secure pallet drop areas that use forklift trucks, contact us - we’re happy to help.
A worldwide chemical company audits each of its production sites every few years. As part of the audits, a survey of safety and operations is conducted. In the spring of 2017, one of the facilities was audited, and the plant production manager learned that the company was mandating safety gates to replace the access gates on upper level decking to improve safety.
The company’s production buildings have mezzanines approximately 13 feet above ground level. All of the mezzanines had access gates that were either hinged or slide in and out of place to allow raw material, maintenance equipment and tools to be passed to and from ground level. The gates were constantly being opened and closed, but did not offer a safe scenario for employees on the mezzanine level.
The plant created a three-person team to determine the best safety gates for the facility. Each team member did independent research, and unanimously selected MHI member Mezzanine Safeti-Gates due to the variety of the designs offered and the quality of the product.
A representative from Mezzanine Safeti-Gates visited the facility, and worked with the plant to identify 35 areas that needed safety gates within the facility. Its team was tasked with securing each area 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. These dual-gate systems would replace the access gates being used throughout the facility.
Because each area in the facility had its own unique process and space limitations, specific fall protection solutions were designed for each area.
The facility featured a number of areas in which overhead hoists that loaded super sacks to elevated areas so employees could mix the ingredients into the hoppers. The Open Top safety gate model was the fall protection solution for areas using hoists because this design uses an interconnected dual-gate system without any overhead mechanics that ensures one gate is always protecting the employees from the mezzanine ledge. The hoist accesses the area from above while keeping the employee a safe distance from the ledge. A few of the areas using an overhead hoist required side access to the material, so the Open Top model was designed in a ninety-degree configuration.
The Tri-Side model was used to secure other pallet drop areas in the facility 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.
In other locations, the depth of the safety gates had to be able to accommodate a small two-man scissor lift. In these areas, longer side rails for the Tri-Side gates were supplied to fit the depth requirements while keeping employees safe from the exposed ledge.
Additional pallet drop areas needed to be secured, and those had limited height with tall pallet loads. A custom designed version of the Pivot safety gate was created by adjusting the pivot point locations to fit the space constraints and accommodate the pallet sizes.
After the installation of the safety gates, the employees in the facility are very happy with the ease of use of the gates and the safety they provided.