Facility Safety in Food Production: A Case Study
It’s very rare that a business stays exactly the same, year after year. It’s the nature of life; businesses and processes adapt as time goes on. This is also true for the facilities that house the business processes and applications; they too change with the business.
We have seen facilities evolve for many of our customers. Products change over time, and the applications in which the products adjust accordingly. When applications or processes change within the facility, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate safety practices and equipment.
One of our long time customers has a facility that really illustrates this idea. The food-based company was changing its production processes in a mixing area. In this application, employees work on elevated decks with pallet loads of ingredients, opening the material and dumping it into a hopper. The reason for the change was to increase productivity. When reviewing the layout for the new area the facility manager realized they needed in incorporate proper safety guarding to keep the employees safe while they worked up on this redesigned platform.
Our team reviewed the platform’s design and discussed the specific requirements with the end user. The facility produces food products so the platform as well as the guarding had to be fabricated from stainless steel with special requirements that specified no bolt holes in the tubing, continuous welds, and all open tubing needing to be capped.
Next, we discussed application. Three pallets needed to be loaded side by side as there were three different ingredients being processed. The employees unloaded the bags of ingredients off of the pallet by hand, and dumped them into the hoppers behind the pallet drop area. The challenge was to keep the employees a safe distance from the ledge while allowing the material to be lifted up to the area and processed. The space in the working area was very tight, so any safety solution would need to operate in the confined area.
To assist in increasing productivity at the facility, while keeping employees safe from falling from the deck at the same time, the High Pallet Pivot safety gate was selected for use. This was also an ideal solution because the Pivot Model design is available in all stainless steel construction and could be fabricated in keeping with the end user’s special requirements.
To accommodate the lay out, we installed one double-side unit next to a single-wide unit so materials could be loaded into one of the areas while employees unloaded the pallets from the adjacent area. Now, pallets and material could be loaded and unloaded at the same time, while protecting employees from the ledges of the platform.
The High Pallet Pivot safety gate uses dual, counterbalanced gates interconnected with multiple pivot points to maintain a safe environment at all times. It handles pallet loads of up to 80 inches and takes up a minimum amount of space on the work platform, which was ideal for the tight area.
We looked again at the width of the platform after choosing the safety gate model, and because the gates were going to be installed side by side, we designed the two units to share a center stanchion, which maximized the space on the deck where employees were working.
After installing the two custom designed High Pallet Pivot safety gates, the company was able to increase production while providing fall protection for employees at all times.
Always remember to take a look at your safety needs when applications and processes change in your facility. Even if the space is tight or you have goals to increase productivity, safety is always of the utmost importance, and it doesn’t have to impede on operations or impact productivity.