Other Voices: Five ways to improve safety

OSHA guidelines only go so far, but a number of safety solutions can address bad habits while fostering good ones.

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Editor’s Note: The following column by Jim Hathaway, guarding products sales specialist at Wildeck, is part of Modern’s Other Voices column. The series features ideas, opinions and insights from end-users, analysts, systems integrators and OEMs. Click here to learn about submitting a column for consideration.

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The bad news is that every year, thousands of people working in industrial plants and facilities are injured on the job. Here are five things industrial plant operators could do today to create a safer work environment:

Ditch the tape.
Many plants use orange or yellow tape on the floors to designate forklift lanes or safe areas for employees and equipment. But what happens if a forklift misses a turn and veers into one of those areas? Is the tape going to stop it? Examine your facility and install guard rail along the paths vehicles travel, and also around employee areas and machinery.

Secure the dock.
With heavy vehicle traffic and docks that can be several feet from the ground, loading docks are busy places filled with potential dangers. It doesn’t take much for someone to lose their bearings and accidentally step off an unsecured dock.

Safety gates can be installed to provide a secure barrier when the dock is not in use. A well-designed safety gate is one that can be easily opened and closed by just one person, and meets the 200 pound force protection requirement outlined by OSHA.

With forklifts and other vehicles constantly backing out of trucks and driving in reverse on loading docks, drivers’ vision may be blind to certain areas while in transit. Consider installing guard rail on loading docks to identify designated travel paths and protect forklifts for inadvertently striking a worker or storage racks.

Use a ladder.
What’s the best way to get a product on a shelf that’s just out of reach? It may be quicker and more convenient to simply grab a chair and use that. Rolling ladders can be custom designed to meet specific needs and are especially suited to grocery stores, warehouses and other business with shelves about eight to 10 feet high.

Barricade the ladder.
Most manufacturing facilities have equipment, conveyors, motors, etc. that are located off the ground, and the only way to reach them is via an access ladder. The danger is once you reach the top of the ladder, there may be no barrier to protect you from falling back down the ladder.

Most ladder access gates can be designed to fit an opening between 16” and 40”, and comply with OSHA regulation 1910.23 on guarding floor and wall openings and holes.

Park the forklift.
Moving materials from one level to another? A vertical reciprocating conveyor can be an alternative to forklifts in certain areas. VRCs act like an elevator as materials are loaded onto an enclosed platform, secured, then transported to an elevated level.

Jim Hathaway is the guarding products sales specialist at Wildeck, Inc. He can be reached at 800-325-6939 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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