Reason #2 – There are elevated areas inside the facility. It’s not hard to understand the need to provide fall protection for open dock doors, but it’s equally important to protect against falls from elevated areas, such as raised platforms and mezzanines – regardless of whether the drop-off leads to vacant space or dangerous equipment and machinery. Barriers and gates provide the level of projection needed.
Reason #3 – There are fall hazards outside the facility. Like raised areas inside the facility, it’s neces- sary to protect against falls from elevated plat- forms outside the facility. Safety barriers are an excellent way to guard against falls in outside spaces, such as ramps and exterior loading docks.
Reason #4 – There’s a misperception that a safety chain is “good enough.” Some companies believe a single safety chain across a dock door, or strung along a raised platform, is adequate projection against falls. However, it’s not a good practice. A chain
offers minimal projection, if any, against drop- off when material-handling equipment is involved. A better option is a safety barrier or gate rated to protect against dock drop-off that involves material handling equipment.
Reason #5 – Powered forklifts are used on the dock, or raised areas. If forklifts are in the picture, the best practice is to use barriers and gates designed to help keep them from falling. Some heavy-duty fabric barriers, for example, can stop a 10,000-lb. forklift traveling up to 4 mph with little or no damage to the barrier. Fabric barriers, which generally consist of mesh curtains and/or straps stretched between steel mounting posts, have evolved over the years to provide the adaptabil- ity and flexibility that most operations require. Some units can also be removed and reposi- tioned in less than 10 seconds, which satisfies the need for ease of use.
Reason #6 – OSHA violations are unaccept- able. OSHA Regulation 1910.23 regarding “protec- tion for wall openings and holes” dictate that companies install adequate protection against falls. Safety managers should also heed guide- lines issued by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Specifically, A1264.1-2007 “sets forth safety requirements for areas where danger exists of persons or objects falling through floor or wall openings, platforms, runways, ramps, and fixed stairs, in normal, temporary, and emergency conditions.” Whether it’s a loading dock or a raised area, safety barriers and gates address the need to protect people anytime they are at height of four feet or more.
Reason #7 – Warning about potential safety risks is a good thing. A well-designed safety barrier or gate provides a clear visual warning to forklift operators to stay clear of closed dock doors to avoid crash- ing through them. Doing so is especially critical for facilities that keep dock doors closed for any number of reasons, including environmen- tal control, compliance with closed-door poli- cies, or to ensure security and cleanliness. Some safety barriers not only provide a much-needed visual warning, but can also stop a 10,000-lb. forklift traveling up to 4 mph.
Reason #8 – Keeping costs down is a priority. Given the costs associated with industrial acci- dents, installing barriers and safety gates that provide fall protection – and/or warn people of the danger – makes good business sense. In addition to equipment damage, unwanted and unnecessary costs can include downtime, med- ical bills, lawsuits, and higher insurance premi- ums. In short, the cost of a catastrophic accident far exceeds the investment in barriers or gates that help prevent them from happening. The best option is to play it safe by installing barri- ers and gates, which is relatively easy to do.
Reason #9 – Safety is considered a top priori- ty. Safety barriers and gates have come a long way since the days when the concept of safety barri- ers only went as far steel guardrails. Today, the devices are easier to use than ever, and there are a host of options available to suit the needs of decision-makers and users alike. If safety is a priority, there aren’t many more reasons to install technically advanced safety barriers and gates if fall protection is needed.