Maximizing Safety: 5 Ideal Areas for Warehouse Guardrail Installation

Facility managers aim to have operations that efficiently use time, money, personnel and equipment. But even small incidents can have a large impact on productivity. The consequences of falls and collisions in the workplace can range from minor losses to severe injuries to extensive and costly damage.

Warehouse guardrails are a highly versatile investment that can prevent falls, drops and collisions of all kinds. The following five areas, found in many of today’s material handling facilities, are all well-served by warehouse safety guardrails.

1. Mezzanines

Mezzanines have many uses: They can elevate a workspace so employees can properly handle materials transported by conveyors. They can also create extra space for training purposes, cafeterias or break rooms above the plant floor.

Anytime you’re lifting people and equipment above ground level, however, there’s a risk of falling. And anything that takes a tumble from the upper level of a mezzanine – person, equipment or otherwise – can also injure others and damage critical equipment. Guardrails mark the edges of the mezzanine and physically prevent large items from falling to the level below.

2. Loading docks

The loading dock is a busy area with many risks. One of the most important safety measures that facility managers can take is implementing fall protection to prevent forklifts from driving off the edge of the dock. This potentially fatal accident happens far too often and can lead to serious consequences for the operator as well as the truck and inventory it’s carrying.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that walking-working surfaces with an unprotected side or edge four feet or higher should be equipped with a fall protection system of some kind. This description can be applied to most loading docks, particularly those that accommodate refrigerated trucks, which are typically between 50 and 60 inches high, according to Safety+Health Magazine.

OSHA recommends guardrail systems as well as safety net systems and personal fall protection systems to keep employees safe. Removable safety guardrails are particularly helpful here because they can be adjusted to allow larger equipment to pass through when needed.

3. Holes and other drop-offs

OSHA’s regulations dealing with holes, drop-offs and other ledges are similar to those for walking-working surfaces. The agency recommends industrial safety guardrails or another form of fall protection for areas that are six or more feet above the next lower level, including:

  • Leading edges.
  • Holes, including skylights.
  • Ramps and runways.
  • Excavations.
  • Sloped roofs.
  • Wall openings, including where chutes are attached.

4. Conveyors

Many of today’s material handling facilities are fast-paced work environments in which inventory and components travel rapidly from one station to another on conveyors. Conveyor systems are strategically positioned throughout the facility, sometimes rounding corners or transporting items to higher levels. Some facilities use high-speed conveyors so product moves along at a faster clip.

Any time product is being carried quickly or over varied paths, there’s a chance that it can fall from the conveyor. This puts any people nearby at risk and opens the potential for broken inventory or damaged equipment. Guardrail systems placed alongside the conveyors – or, at the very least, in high-risk areas – can serve to prevent falls from causing employee injury, broken equipment or damaged goods.

5. Nearby equipment

Uncontrolled forklifts can cause a lot of damage. Forks can dent equipment like racking and doors, necessitating expensive and time-consuming repairs or replacements. Fortunately, guardrail systems strategically positioned near valuable equipment can protect these assets from unintentional forklift damage.

Guardrails that are installed in front of equipment that houses chemicals can prevent accidents involving hazardous materials from escalating. Other times, structures located in front of the forklift docking area can protect other vehicles from damage from trucks that are in operation. For even more protection, facilities with lots of racking should consider post protectors around the legs of their racking systems.

An investment in guardrails can serve your facility for many years to come and help prevent serious accidents. To speak with an expert about guardrail safety and installation, reach out to Miner.