3 Reasons to Consult a Professional When Buying Protective Guarding

Guest blog by Aaron Conway from MHI Member Company Mezzanine Safeti-Gates

Safety in material handling operations is paramount wherever employees are working, whether they are in the loading dock, moving near machinery or picking from pallets in upper levels of rack systems. Proactively purchasing protective guarding equipment while the facility is being designed is always a smart decision, but it can also be added to the facility as systems change or risks are uncovered.

There is no denying that protective guarding equipment is an investment, both monetarily and in employee wellbeing. When making such an important purchase you want to make sure you get it right. Imagine you have spent money on a piece of protective guarding equipment, and it’s not being used correctly. The worst case scenario – a safety incident resulting in injury or worse – is nothing that anyone wants to happen.

Safe facilities regularly equate with happy employees. Knowing there is proper safety equipment in the facility to keep them safe can boost morale, and a corporate culture with safety in mind can help to keep them on the job for many years. Visible safety equipment may also help on recruit-ing employees, especially when they are touring the facility; this is important now more than ever as finding and retaining employees can be a big cost savings to Human Resources. A bonus ad-dition to the ROI of protective guarding equipment.

Consulting a professional when planning to purchase protective guarding can ensure that you get safety equipment that will be used correctly, and therefore keep employees safe. Here are three ways they can help you make the decision.

Off the Shelf is Often Off
Ordering products online is easy, but today it’s rare that a standard size piece of guarding will truly be the right fit. Every material handling facility is different; each has its own layout of equipment and storage, material, applications, workflow, number of employees and more. Sure, it may look like it will fit, but will it protect your employees at all times, without depending on too much effort on their part?

Remember if you depend too much on your employee to move the barrier, the safety device may end up creating new issues for your employees. Repetitive motions, especially those made when moving heavy equipment, can cause fatigue and wear and tear on employee muscles and joints.

Professionals in the guarding space can make sure you purchase the right equipment. They can help you determine what to measure, discuss employee movements and make sure the protective guarding not only works for your facility, it will be the right fit and equipment to work for the long haul.

Changing Codes
As you are likely aware, there are regulations and codes for just about every piece of equipment in material handling. If you have tried to sit down and read some of the OSHA and ANSI codes, you may find them somewhat vague in places and even confusing when you put them side by side. Additionally, the codes are updated every couple of years.

Industry professionals and consultants are often aware of the code changes as they take place, and can counsel you and your team about the impact on your operations, if any. They will also have the expertise to advise you on the equipment best suited for your facility and make sure they comply with regulations.

Check for Quality
Longevity is something to keep in mind when looking for protective guarding, like pallet drop safe-ty gates, for your facility. What may appear to be the cheapest design may end up being the most expensive if the device is always left open or falls apart after a love-tap from the lift truck or bump from an AGV. Look for something well constructed, and talk to people who have installed the gates themselves.

If you are looking for a protective guarding professional, there are many qualified companies in MHI’s ProGMA group. You can find member companies and many valuable resources at the industry group’s site.

Aaron Conway is President of Mezzanine Safeti-Gates, a provider of pallet drop safety gates. He is the past Chair of the ProGMA. You can reach him at sales@MezzGate.com.