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The Best Fall Protection Solution for Your Facility

Contributor: Mezzanine Safeti-Gates

A model without overhead mechanics, like the Open Top safety gate, is a good fit for areas with overhead equipment. Image courtesy of Mezzanine Safeti-Gates.

Elevated work platforms are found in almost every industrial facility — fall protection equipment is necessary in all facilities that feature any elevated workspace. OSHA’s fall protection codes require the equipment at 48”, and ANSI standards list 36” as the required height. Dual-gate safety systems are most often the best fall protection solution, but facilities are very diverse, and there are particular safety solutions that work best in each type of facility.

While most safety gate models are dependent on the application, certain designs lend themselves to a specific type of facility. We’ve put together a quick guide to selecting the right safety gate for each type of facility.

Production Facility:

Facilities like food processing or chemical plants often feature production platforms with tight quarters on elevated platforms. Overhead hoists are often used near the platforms to load super sacks to elevated areas so employees could mix the ingredients into the hoppers. A safety gate featuring an open top is the ideal model for areas with overhead equipment because this design uses an interconnected dual-gate system without any overhead mechanics that ensures one gate is always protecting the employees from the ledge. This design allows the hoist to access the area from above while keeping the employee a safe distance from the ledge.

Tri-side safety models are popular for areas loaded by a lift truck with limited depth due to the location of the hoppers. This three-sided design uses a cantilevered rear-side gate that lifts up and out of the way to allow access around the pallet in tight environments while always keeping the ledge secured. Many safety gate designs can be made in stainless steel if the facility environment is hostile, or the gate is exposed to frequent rinsing.

Distribution Center:

These facilities often feature rack-supported pick modules, as they are the best choice for fall protection in most of these configurations, since the gates never extend into the truck or picking aisle, and do not interfere with the truck loading the upper levels of multi-level picking systems. The gates open and close within the confines of the pallet drop area so the gate at the ledge opens and closes flush with the ledge and the rear gate is flush with the rear uprights of the system.

If the picking bays include pallet flow lanes in which multiple pallets deep are loaded, then you should install a rack-supported gate that is designed as deep as the flow lane. The additional depth ensures there is a gate in place at all times and prevents an employee from entering the aisle while the area is being loaded. This is especially important in a cluster-picking design where employees travel an aisle between the lanes to pick from multiple pallets at the same time.

Distribution centers are good candidates for gates that don’t interfere with trucks’ movements, like the Roly gate. Image courtesy of Mezzanine Safeti-Gates.

Record Retention Centers:

Many storage facilities feature elevated work areas with limited headroom, and in these buildings, a pivot-style safety gate is the best choice, as the design operates on only two pivot points and can fit into areas with limited space. In facilities with multi-level rack systems, a rack-supported pivot safety gate is the best choice, as it provides the most free space behind the pallet. With the pivoting framework, the rear gate extends back beyond the upright to secure the pallet, then moves out of the way when the ledge gate is closed, eliminating the need for a permanent structure to be located behind the upright.

Stand-Alone Facility:

Some facilities, like grocery and retail stores, feature elevated areas on which employees work. The most popular of these is a loading dock – often the busiest place in a facility, they pose a number of safety hazards.

For example, we worked with a supermarket chain to provide fall protection in their loading dock. On the lifts used in the dock, our Dock-Lift safety gate features gates that automatically open and close to provide fall protection while material is moved from the lift, truck and dock. On the loading dock, our Loading Dock Safety Gate is ideal as this design is single-gate system that allows the employee on the loading dock to raise and lock open when the tractor trailer is in place, and automatically close once the truck drives away from the area.

Large retail stores and museums can often feature elevated work platforms or mezzanines, and in most of these facilities, a dual gate fall protection system is often the best model to provide fall protection. It is the most flexible in terms of size and is the best model if the safety gate needs to be operated remotely from the lower level or a lift truck.

While the guide above outlines the most popular designs for each facility, your specific application may need a custom design. We are always happy to help you determine the right design for your application and look forward to helping you choose the best safety gate for your facility. WMHS

This information first appeared on the Mezzanine Safeti-Gates blog, at: https://tinyurl.com/4dpu9xf2.  Mezzanine Safeti-Gates has been designing and manufacturing high-quality fall protection systems for mezzanine levels and pallet drop areas for more than 35 years. Company founder Jim Conway created the first dual-gate pallet drop safety gate system, the Roly® safety gate. To learn more about that or about the company’s Open Top, Tri-Side, pivot or customizable safety gates, visit www.mezzgate.com.

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