From Floor to Ceiling: Protective Guarding Keeps Workers Safe
By MHI Industry Group, ProGMA
Worker safety is a top priority for companies. In addition to keeping costs low and complying with national standards, workers who work safe are happier, healthier, and more productive.
A safe facility features many different solutions, but an essential part of your safety solution is protective guarding. Not only does protective guarding keep people safe, but it also prevents damage to product, which will save you money. Industry solutions vary and there are many different options to choose from, depending on the area or application. In fact, protective barrier and guarding solutions can be found from floor to ceiling in a facility.
In order to help you quickly gauge where you might need to fill some gaps in your facility, here’s a quick overview of some of the most common protective guarding needs.
On the Floor
The floor area of your facility features various people working amongst equipment and structures, machinery of various types, and walkways to entrances and exits. Some areas that need guarding are:
1. At the Entrance
Protective Guarding Equipment (PGE) like storage lockers allow employees to store personal items and keeps clutter out and lowers trip and fall hazards.
2. High Traffic Areas on the Floor/Moving Machinery
PGE solutions for these areas include wire/mesh cages and cells or light curtains. In some facilities, there may be applications in which employees need a contained environment to work in or one that must be separated from AGV or forklift traffic or other machines with moving parts.
3. Rack Systems
Rack protectors and guardrails are the most common PGE solutions to protect rack systems from being damaged; fork trucks and/or AGVs can bump into the structure and damage it without the proper rack protection systems.
4. Machinery and Conveyors
PGE like machine guarding can secure the work environment and protect people and items from harm. Guarding can be installed around the entire machine or around parts of equipment to keep people safe.
As your workers move up from the floor area, so must their protective guarding. Elevated areas include walkways, mezzanines, elevated pallet drop areas, elevated conveyors, or multi-level pick modules. The ANSI MH 28.3 standards actually specify that any elevated area 36 inches or higher needs protection
Accidents involving falls to lower levels cost over $5B annually in US and 16 lost work days per injury, according to OSHA, and over 50,000 series injuries occur annually in US from falling objects striking employees below. Here are some solutions to protect those elevated areas:
5. Elevated Conveyor and Rack Systems
Netting and mesh infill panels are some of the most common PGE that prevent product that is organized and stored at heights from falling to lower levels after coming loose. Products can also fall during transport from one elevated place to another, especially between mezzanine handrails to the floor below or conveyor systems.
6. Mezzanines, Walkways, Platforms, Etc.
Guardrail is the most critical PGE in this area that protects employees from falling or getting too close to machinery operations.
7. Pallet Drop Areas
To provide a safe working environment for employees, openings and pallet drop areas can utilize safety gate PGE. Safety gates with dual gates that are counterbalanced are recommended by ANSI standards.
8. Pallet Flow Lanes
Safety gates also come into play in pallet flow lanes. These areas are often floored over, inviting employees to walk on the lanes, but safety gates designed to secure ledges of multiple deep pallet flow lanes on structural mezzanines or rack supported pick modules can keep employees safe. To comply with ANSI standards, dual counterbalanced gates allow pallets to be loaded into a system while creating a fall protection barrier for employees working in the system.
We are very passionate about keeping employees safe – it’s our number one priority – so if you have questions, please feel free to reach out to one of our members to find the ideal protective guarding solution for your facility that will keep your workers safe. Visit mhi.org/progma to learn more.