Ensuring safety for all employees is one of the most important tasks for any facility manager. Many facility managers pride themselves on having zero accidents or incidents and take regular steps to make sure all workers are safe. A zero incident record often means that safety equipment is in place and being used properly.
However, as applications and facilities change, there is often a need to procure additional safety equipment. Many times upper management is much more focused on ensuring operations are as efficient as possible and profits are as high as they can be. Safety devices can often carry high costs, and it is not always easy to make the case for the equipment needed to ensure safety at all times.
We’ve heard many ways that executives have pushed back on safety managers about their spending, and have put together five responses that can help to sell your executive team on the purchase of the right safety equipment for your facility.
We don't need it - the work platform is not very high.
While three feet doesn’t seem high, a fall from that level can produce a sprain, break or some other injury. ANSI standards mandate that fall protection should be in place for all workers that work at heights of three feet or greater - OSHA takes it a foot higher to four feet. But, all it takes is one incident, which can lead to lost work days for employees and costs for the company. Even without an incident, fines from OSHA may be implemented for improper safety equipment. Fall protection equipment also provides employees working on elevated platforms confidence and ease of mind, so they can focus on doing their job.
We have a chain or other movable barrier; it’s working fine.
This thought process is very high risk - barriers like chains or movable guarding are often never moved into place, leaving employees working at exposed elevated ledges. These “safety devices” also do not meet code, and don’t provide the level of safety needed for employees working at height. ANSI fall protection guidelines mandate a barrier is in place at all times, even while pallets are staged, being picked or in the process of being delivered or removed. The best solution to meet these needs is a dual-gate system, which provides protection from elevated ledges and keeps employees from pallet drop areas when they are in use without having to move full systems into and out of place.
The safety equipment is too expensive.
While the initial cost of safety equipment can be high, depending on the complexity of the facility and the number of areas that need to be secured, the cost of not having the safety equipment in place is much greater. If there is an incident, costs can add up - OSHA fines, potential for the facility to be shut down for a period of time can be daunting. Additional costs for legal teams and even to rebuild the corporate reputation after incident can also accrue. These potential costs outweigh any cost for safety equipment.
The safety equipment will impede production.
As long as you choose the right safety equipment for your specific application, productivity should stay intact, and may even improve. For example, dual-gate safety systems like the ones we offer can include power operation, wireless controls and sensors, and even can be integrated with software. It’s pretty easy to debunk this one, and if you need more evidence, we can provide many case studies on productivity.
We’ve never had an incident using what is in place now.
Congratulations, you’ve been relying on luck in the past and it’s worked. What happens when the luck runs out? This too is a high risk strategy, and luck is just not something to rely on when it comes to employee safety.
Have you heard another excuse for not purchasing the safety equipment you need to get to zero incident status? We’re happy to help you find the right response and equipment - just reach out.
The second dual-gate safety system we invented was the Pivot safety gate. The Pivot model was originally a custom designed safety gate for Pierce Leahy Archives, which was later purchased by Iron Mountain, and is a great solution for providing fall protection for multiple pallet drop areas. We engineered a simple design for the Pivot safety gate to limit the moving parts; the gate operates on just two pivot points. The design makes the Pivot model a good choice for many applications, including food processing plants where the entire design can be fabricated out of stainless steel.
Pierce Leahy required a safety solution in areas with limited available height and multiple levels of platforms used for record retention. The original Pivot model we created for this job consisted of a gate at the ledge and second gate behind the pallet, which used a pivoting framework that was manually operated to maintain a safe environment at all times while pallets are loaded into the area.
While traditionally offered in a few standard sizes, single wide and double wide, the basic Pivot safety gate design didn’t lend itself to much customization, so it was a good choice for operations with standard size pallet loads. The ability to fit this model in a low overhead space had the disadvantage of not accommodating a tall of a pallet load. However, we changed this for Cardinal Health who liked the simplicity of the Pivot safety gate but wanted to load taller pallets into the area.
To meet the needs of Cardinal Health, we added additional pivot points to the design to allow the gates to clear taller pallet load. This design became known as the High Pallet Pivot Model, which uses a total of 14 pivot points to clear taller pallets and to reduce the amount of space it takes up on the platform. A traditional Pivot gate can take up a lot of depth on a platform because the rear gate needs room to pivot back into the area when the gate is operated. This can be a problem on smaller mezzanines, but by adding pivot points, we were able to reduce the swing depth so the gate can clear the same size pallet in a smaller footprint. This is important because space is always significant – that’s why the mezzanine was built in the first place!
The High Pallet Pivot safety gate design with the multiple pivot points opened up endless possibilities for customization. By positioning the pivot points in strategic positions, we can modify the height and depth to accommodate odd-size pallet loads, fit in areas with limited heights, and work around obstructions on the platform. In food and chemical manufacturing plants, it’s very common to have reactors or hoppers positioned behind the pallet drop area, so it is important to be able to modify the depth of the pivot gate to work around this equipment.
The next evolution in the Pivot design was the introduction of a Rack Supported model, which was designed to meet the fall protection needs in the increasingly popular multi-level pick modules. These safety systems attach to the existing pallet rack to maximize space in the bay, and eliminate parts of the structure that could get hit and damaged by the lift truck. In addition, by attaching to the rack uprights, the safety gate doesn’t need to get lagged into the decking, which can vary in design and strength from project to project.
The Rack-Supported Pivot gate allowed picking positions and empty pallet and tote return bays to be permanently secured. This fall protection system is designed to attach to any style of pallet rack and can be configured to fit the specific bays and the products being loaded. The location of the pivot points can be modified so the gate doesn’t swing too far back into the picking aisle, so it can work around the takeaway conveyors or the narrow aisles.
The Pivot safety gate model has gone from being a simple concept and design for standard applications to something that can be customized and configured to fit various scenarios. What’s next for the Pivot model? Stay tuned.