Nothing Fits: Custom Engineering Needed
What happens when an industrial facility has an area that poses risks to employees falling, but traditional fall protection systems don’t fit? OSHA requirements and ANSI standards mandate fall protection equipment is in place, but sometimes the type of dual-gate safety system required to meet these standards simply will not physically fit the area or would impede productivity without the company completely overhauling their operations, process or even facility. Employees can’t be without fall protection, so what should happen?
Fortunately, the scenario above doesn’t happen often. The majority of pallet drop areas and elevated work platforms can be secured with a standard pallet drop safety gate design, even if it requires a custom size. However, we know each facility and the processes and applications within it are unique, and sometimes a specialized solution is required to keep employees safe.
Below are two examples of areas in a material handling facility in which dual-gate safety systems were ruled out for use for fall protection. Our engineering team, however, were able to design specialty solutions to secure these areas without the end user changing their operation. As in the case of these applications, we are willing to design specialty safety fall protection solutions for unique areas even if we know the design would likely never fit another area.
For one warehouse facility, we designed systems that use two gates that operated independently instead of an interconnected dual-gate system where the gates operate in tandem. This configuration was necessary because of several unique circumstances: the area had limited height, a wide opening was needed to load material and 90-degree access on the picking side was required. None of our existing dual-gate systems would fit within these constraints, so we designed a unique solution.
In the custom solution, we engineered gates that operate independently so one gate at the ledge slides open to load the material and the gate on the operator side pivots open for personnel egress into the area. To provide fall protection, the system is configured so the pivoting gate only opens when the sliding gate is closed, and the sliding gate can only be operated while the employee is safe behind the closed pivoting gate. This maintains a safe environment at all times without the need to interconnect the gate system.
In another facility, we found an application that not only has limited depth but also a very tall platform so high that a traditional lift truck would not work to load the pallet drop area. Instead, they use an overhead hoist to lift material up to the area. Employees on the platform dump bags into reactors, and need to access to area from the sides. Our traditional dual-gate systems either took up too much depth on the platform or had overhead mechanics that would not allow overhead hoists to move through the area.
For this application, we designed a three-piece gate that reciprocated from inside to the outside of the platform. The gate restricts access into the area while material is loaded then moves to the outside of the platform where it creates a guardrail barrier that provides fall protection at the ledge while people enter the area. This maintains a safe environment the material is moved into the area with the overhead hoist, and allows the operators to safely handle the bags from the side.
These custom designed systems were sized for the unique areas, and it’s very unlikely that we will ever have the need to use them again, but we take pride in helping our customers create a safer work environment. We are committed to providing the best safety solution for your specific environment, no matter how unique the application is. If you have had trouble finding the right solution for your unique area, let us know and we can help.