How to Make a Smart Investment in Safety Equipment

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

In today’s fast paced material handling and warehouse environments, safety is becoming increasingly important as employees must be kept safe on the job. While the initial cost of safety equipment may be robust, depending on the complexity of the facility and the number of areas that need to be secured, the cost of not having the safety equipment in place is much greater. It’s important to make sure you think of this type of purchase as an investment into your facility and employee well-being.
Costs of an incident can add up; the potential for the facility to be shut down for a period of time can be daunting. Additional costs accrued from potential OSHA fines, insurance and a scarred corporate image can be detrimental to a company’s bottom line. Expenses for legal teams and reputation management after incident can also be tacked onto the overall incident cost. These potential losses outweigh any cost for safety equipment.

The bottom line is that the key to safety is making sure you are investing in the right equipment that will be easily and consistently used by employees. Temporary, band-aid solutions are just adding to the risk and not a fix for safety.

Apply these two principles to your purchase decision for any purchase of protective guarding, and you will have invested smartly.

Ensure Equipment Compliance with Regulations

Industry regulations are in place to ensure employees are safe on the job. In the case of fall protection, for example, ANSI standards mandate that safety equipment should be in place for all workers that work at heights of three feet or greater – OSHA takes it a foot higher to four feet. While three feet doesn’t seem high, a fall from that level can produce a sprain, break or some other injury. And, all it takes is one accident, which can lead to lost work days for employees and costs for the company.

Even without an incident, fines from OSHA may be implemented for improper safety equipment. Protective guarding equipment like pallet drop safety gates also provides employees working on elevated platforms confidence and ease of mind, so they can focus on doing their job.

Proper Design & Construction

Protective guarding comes in so many different shapes and sizes, so it’s important to match the right type of equipment to the specific application. This will contribute to the longevity of the equipment; if the equipment is cheaply constructed or fits improperly, that investment may cost more in the long run due to maintenance and replacement costs.

Think about what types of impact employees or other machinery in your facility could have on the safety and ensure it is constructed accordingly. For example, every one of our pallet drop safety gate models is constructed from square tubular steel, most often either either mild or stainless. The rugged steel construction ensures that the safety gate can be used in any environment and can hold up through daily use even when encountering the lift truck.

It is also important to ensure that that equipment is designed to your facility’s specific needs to ensure it fits properly and works to protect your employees. For example, one safety gate model does not work well for every pallet drop area or mezzanine. If the pallet drop area where employees are working is located in a pick module, for instance, the best investment may be a model in which it uses the existing rack uprights within the system to fit more securely and save space while providing fall protection for employees working with the material on the pallets instead of a free-standing safety gate that may provide fall protection but impede on workflow or impact the available space in the area.

Investing in safety equipment is never a bad idea, but seeking out the proper protective guarding for your specific facility is the best investment. Remember to look for something well constructed; talk to people who have installed and used the safety equipment to understand the quality and potential life of the guarding before you make the purchase. Investment into equipment that will be used and is designed for your specific applications can have a positive impact on the health of employees and future of the company.

Aaron Conway is president of Mezzanine Safeti-Gates, Inc. and Chair of the ProGMA.