Facility Safety: Securing Tight Elevated Areas
Space is always a concern in industrial facilities. It’s important to maximize the space that is available for equipment, workers and the operations process.
Companies often maximize the available cubic space by building elevated platforms/mezzanines, but then are concerned with effectively utilizing this additional space. With this space being taken up with shelving, product and equipment there is often little room left available for operations, let alone safety devices.
Production platforms in facilities are notorious for tight spaces as they are filled with hoppers, reactors, and ingredients. These areas almost always use employees to load ingredients into the hopper to mix/produce their end product.
We recently worked with a chemical company to make their production facility safer. The company’s safety manager was looking to secure a number of areas in which a lift truck deposited material on an elevated platform next to a hopper. The pallets of bagged ingredients are deposited very close to the hopper so the employees can just cut the bags open, turn and pour them into the hopper. Space was very limited for employees, and they did not think there was room for a proper safety system.
Our engineers know that there is no such thing as too little space when it comes to safety. After reviewing the requirements and application, the team determined the best safety system for their production areas was our Tri-Side safety gate model. With dual-counterbalanced gates interconnected so one gate is always in place to secure the ledge, and fixed stanchions only 14 inches deep, the Tri-Side gate was the ideal solution for the application because it maintained a safe environment at all times while allowing access around the pallet.
The Tri-Side gates provided safety on the platforms and allowed workers to continue their operations with clear unobstructed access to the loads. Because of the Tri-Side design, the bags of ingredients could be moved to either side at 90 degrees very easily, and dumped into the hopper, all while the ledge gate is down, protecting workers from the ledge side. And, in different areas of the plant, some units were provided in stainless while other areas were powder coated depending on the environment.
For this application the customer was also concerned with securing not only the personnel up on the platform but also their product. We included special ledge-side gates with solid metal panels to prevent the bags from falling off of the ledge. With this configuration, the operators could pick the ingredients from the pallet within a safe environment.
Our customer also wanted to tie in the operation of the safety gate with their processing computers so the system could track the ingredients to each pallet drop area. We power operated the safety gate with a commercial jackshaft operator and a push-button station for open, close and stop. The customer then wired the unit into their system so the computers would record when the safety gates were operated. With their own software, they were able to record the cycles of the safety gate to determine what had been delivered, what had been processed and which area needed to be replenished.
If you have an area with limited space that you need to secure, consider the Tri-Side gate. We make it in custom sizes, custom finishes and power operated. It can also be designed in a rack-supported design to install into pick module.