Every few years, a worldwide chemical company audits each of its production sites. To successfully complete every audit, it also conducts a survey of safety and operations.
During a typical audit of a facility in the spring of 2017, a plant production manager learned 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 that are approximately 13 feet above ground level. All of the mezzanines had access gates that were either hinged, or can slide in and out of place to allow raw material, maintenance equipment and tools to be passed to and from ground level. As the gates were constantly being opened and closed, they didn’t offer a safe scenario for employees on the mezzanine level.
Therefore, the plant created a team to determine the best safety gates for the facility. Each team member conducted independent research and unanimously selected an industrial safety gate designer, due to the variety of the designs it offered, along with its product quality.
A representative from the safety gate supplier 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 replace the access gates that had been used throughout the facility. Because each area in the facility had its own unique process and space limitations, specific fall protection solutions were also designed for every area.
The facility featured a number of areas where overhead hoists loaded super sacks to elevated areas so employees could mix the ingredients into the hoppers. A safety gate model was implemented as the fall protection solution for areas using hoists, particularly since the design uses an interconnected dual-gate system (without any overhead mechanics). In turn, one gate is always protecting the employees from the mezzanine ledge.
The hoist, meanwhile, 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 model was designed in a 90-degree configuration.
Another 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, which allows access around the pallet in tight environments, while always keeping the ledge secured.
In other locations, the depth of the safety gates had to accommodate a small, two-man scissor lift. In these areas, longer side rails for the gates were supplied to fit the depth requirements, while also 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 a safety gate was created by adjusting the pivot point locations, primarily to fit the space constraints and accommodate the pallet sizes.
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