One of the best ways to maximize square footage in a warehouse is by using work platforms and mezzanines. While these structures are great at improving efficiency, they do introduce serious safety issues. Train employees to work safely on platforms, establish procedures for platform work and ensure every platform is equipped with physical safeguards.
1. Falls Are Top Priority
Slipping and trips cause more injuries, but are seldom as devastating as falling from a structure. It’s crucial to train every employee to keep a constant awareness of the work environment.
Training should reinforce behavior such as:
* Keep more than one step away from the edge.
* Avoid moving backwards.
* Move heavy lifts away from the edge before lifting.
* Never lean out over the edge of a platform.
* Self-closing gates prevent falls. Never defeat these devices.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces rules specific to platforms. One requirement of OSHA regulation 1910.29 is a guardrail 42 inches tall around any platform four feet or higher. The guardrail must withstand a force of at least 200 pounds outward or downward.
2. Protection From Falling Objects
OSHA regulation 1910.29(k) requires protection from objects falling off the platform. Toeboards with a minimum vertical height of 3.5 inches are specified at every platform edge. They must withstand a 50-pound force outward or downward. Some sort of mesh or screen on the guardrail might be prudent as well.
3. Stairs Need to Be Roomy
OSHA standards specify stairs at least seven inches deep, 16 inches wide and with no more than 10 inches of height. If you have a lot of females or other small workers, six inches might be a more appropriate height to avoid accidents.
4. Keep Height to a Minimum
U.S. law requires that the height of the platform cannot exceed four times the base width. For instance, a 12-foot-wide platform can’t be more than 48 feet high. If your current platform exceeds this 4:1 height ratio, it’s best to mount outrigger beams and framing to increase the base width measurement of the structure for safety reasons.
5. Minimize Slips and Trips
Tripping and slipping might sound like the latest dance craze, but there’s nothing funny about these hazards. Slips and trips cause more workplace injuries than any other hazard. Once again, the most effective prevention is emphasizing employee awareness through training and reminders.
* Keep floors well-swept to avoid slipping hazards like liquids, dust or powders.
* Ensure that discarded work material or packaging debris is disposed of properly.
* Boxes should never be stored in the aisles or spend overnight off of the stacks.
* Always make sure the entire platform is well-lighted.
* Take advantage of tools like friction tape, anti-slip paint and non-slip shoes.
6. Make It Beefy
OSHA requires that platforms be tested to four times their rated capacity. If an existing platform doesn’t meet this standard, it’s going to need rebuilding or buttressing. The government can shut you down for a violation of this one.
Platforms can improve storage space, eliminate steps in the manufacturing process and provide more workspace for employee comfort. Paying the proper attention to regulations, taking extra safety precautions on your own and training employees are the best ways to make sure every employee stays safe from harmful platform accidents.