Posts Tagged ‘Warehouse Safety’

Winter is coming: check your Dock Seals.

September 28, 2010

Dock Seals keep out the cold

Yes, the fall weather has finally arrived and it’s good to take some time off to enjoy it.  As we all know, the winter months will soon be upon us. For manufacturing sites and distribution centers, dock doors are a huge drain on heating bills. Every time a truck pulls in to load or unload, the dock door comes up and all the heat goes out into the winter air. A dock seal creates a barrier between the truck and the dock opening to prevent the huge loss of warm air.

Dock Seals are a very reasonable investment, ranging from $700 to as much as $2000.  In the dock seal world, “you get what you pay for” is the rule. Buyers should take a close look at the performance versus the cost. The performance of dock seals range from as low as 250 cycles, a cycle being each time a truck pulls in/out, up to 10,000 or even more cycles.

If you have a dock that only gets 1-2 trucks a day, then a lower cost dock seal may be all right for you. For high traffic docks, high-performance materials are a better investment. Make sure your vendor lists a cycle rating for any seal quoted. Please keep in mind that higher performance seals also use pleating, double stitching, weather resistant wood backing and other features to extend the life of the seal and prevent damage.

So, now is the time to take a look at the dock seals on your building and get the repaired or replaced before the cold weather sets in.

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The Challenge of the Aging Workforce

September 24, 2010

I am a big fan of CBS Sunday Morning. I finally watched the episode that aired a couple of weeks ago and that program contained a really interesting story about BMW. They have recognized that their workforce is aging and that they may need to make some changes to accommodate older workers. By 2020 16% of the population will be over 65 years of age, so this is a problem common to all US companies.

BMW took one production line and staffed it with people approximately 47 years of age, since they expect their workforce average age to be 47 in 2017. They just talked to the people on the line and asked how the company could make improvements for them. The company purchased custom shoes for everyone on the line and installed wooden floors, since aching feet were a universal complaint. They also added lighted magnifiers for people that were inspecting parts and new computer screens that offer larger type. One man requested a place to “stretch” when he began to feel fatigued, so they built some bars on a nearby wall so he can go over and limber up.

In total, BMW spent a measly $50,000, including lost time. Here’s what they got in return; Absenteeism dropped below the plant average; Productivity increased 7% and defects dropped to ZERO. The program was so successful, that they are expanding it to other production lines and other plants. That’s a great productivity plan for any company.

Solving Drum-Handling Hazards

July 19, 2010

We received a product bulletin today from Valley Craft concerning their new power Drive Drum Handling equipment and I though it would be a good subject for the blog.  Handling drums is a major problem for many companies. Drums are big, heavy and often full of some kind of chemicals that should not be spilled. I have worked on numerous drum-handling projects over the years, often after an injury has occurred.

A large number of the cases I have seen involved moving drums by hand- 1 or 2 people tip the drum and then roll it slowly where it needs to go. It’s really hard to get a drum off of or onto a pallet. I have also seen a number or injuries caused by moving a drum with a drum dolly. It’s a lot of weight to “break over” so that the load is on the wheels, and this often leads to back, neck and shoulder problems.

You can get an attachment for your forklift that will handle drums with ease, but a lot of companies just don’t have the floor space to operate a forklift in the area where they store and access drums. A simple way to handle drums in limited space is with a Roto-Lift or Roto-Grip from Valley Craft. These machines look like a pallet stacker, but come with an attachment that clamps around the drum to lift it. The straddle style fits on the corner of a pallet, so you can easily lift or place a drum on a pallet. There is also a counterbalanced version, which eliminates the outriggers and makes the lift more maneuverable. Using these lifters make drum-handling a one-person job and greatly reduce the chance of injury, dropping or spilling a drum. The Roto-Lift and Roto-Grip will also rotate the drum so the contents can be dumped.

The new versions are fully powered, so the machine does the pushing during travel. Any operator can move up to 1000 lbs. with the power drive wheels and full hydraulic lift functions. The use of the power drive decreases injury risk by another 50%. These lifts have the added benefit of easy maintenance.

More on Investing in Ergonomic Mats

July 13, 2010

  

Hog Heaven Mat is Industrial Tough

 

I actually got some positive feedback for my blog! I had written a blog about the importance of good ergonomic matting and I am going to add a bit more evidence. In the last year, one customer has added 1368 square feet of matting to their building. The cost for these mats has been $9,300. This investment has cost the company less than half of the projected cost of a back injury! 

One of the mats that we prefer is the Hog Heaven mat from the Andersen Company. This mat has as static dissipative nitrile rubber surface, which is resistant to oils and chemicals. It performs very well in Industrial environments. The top is textured for slip-resistance. This mat will not curl or crack and it has four OSHA colored safety borders available. The mat has a gentle bevel around the edges, which removes the tripping hazard created by some mats. It is also safe to use in welding production areas. The National Floor Safety Institute has certified this mat as slip resistant. The mats come in standard and custom sizes, so there are hundreds of configurations. Best of all, the manufacturer faithfully ships standard or custom mats in 5 days or less, so you don’t have to wait long.

We think this mat is the most comfortable one on the market and it a great value. We have a number of Hog Heaven mats that have been in service at customer locations for over 5 years, without a complaint! 

  

Securing Dock Doors

May 20, 2010

Summer must be near! I had a call from a customer that needs to secure their dock doors. They recently added a second shift, and sometime during the evening, an intruder entered and pilfered a power washer from their building.   A good way to secure dock doors is with a folding gate.

Folding gates expand to cover the opening of the dock and then contract or fold back when not in use. Folding gates come in single panels for “people” doors, and in pairs up to 24′ in width for dock doors. Gates are also available in smaller, portable versions to block of aisles or other areas of the plant.

Folding gates provide access control and security, visibility and air circulation for the facility. The summer months always generate interest in folding gates, so that more dock doors can be opened to improve ventilation.

Buying Pallet Racking- What you should know

April 27, 2010

This morning a customer called looking for some old Penco rack beams in an odd size.  It is mostly impossible to find this stuff any more.  A standard developed in the rack marketplace about 1996: Teardrop Style.  For companies that buy used rack for their warehouses, it is important to know what you are buying.  If you buy most any other “style” of racking, then it is highly likely that it has been in use much longer than the RMI ( Rack Manufacturers Institute) guideline for life span.  You may also find that it is very difficult to find additional rack or components to match. 

Most companies will no longer accept used rack due to the liability issues.  Used rack doesn’t come with a warranty, so the buyer is on the line for failures.  Some insurance companies will walk away from covering used rack since there really isn’t any way to verify the load rating of the rack.  If you are trying to save money by buying used rack, then take the time to get educated on the specifications for this product.  Make sure that what you are buying is not damaged (particularly at the base of uprights), industry standard and originally had enough capacity for your products.