By Kirstin Monk
Many business owners looking to find more space without expanding or moving premises opt to install a mezzanine. While mezzanines are a great way of achieving more with the space you have, they can also pose a hazard in the work environment. Look after your employees by making sure you’ve thought of everything when it comes to mezzanine safety.
How To Stay Safe On A Mezzanine
To maintain a safe and secure mezzanine environment there are various precautions you can take, from installing the right equipment to providing comprehensive training. Consider the following:
Ensure the mezzanine is designed and built by engineering experts who adhere to all relevant safety codes and regulations. It should be designed to take the necessary loads using quality materials and fire protection.
The mezzanine must be kept clean, tidy, and all fixtures and fittings should be 100% secure. Consider the 5S’s of Manufacturing, a system coined by Toyota to achieve just this. There should be clear walkways, no wiring or objects to trip on, and no chance of items falling from shelves. By maintaining a well-organized mezzanine, you will decrease the chance of accidents happening to personnel who use it.
All mezzanines should be properly safeguarded with the appropriate edge protection, that is, kickboards and handrails. These should be fastened on all outer edges of the mezzanine in order to limit the chance of anything falling off the side, and to add extra security for those who walk on the platform.
Anyone who may need to use the mezzanine in any way should be provided with the proper safety training. This should include information regarding the weight capacity of the mezzanine, as provided by the installers. Safety training should also cover aspects such as how to clear up spillages – including the use of a warning sign – trip hazards, and the importance of clear walkways.
All mezzanines should be installed by experts who use safety equipment (netting, scissor lifts, etc). Unauthorized access to the site shouldn’t be allowed during the build. Transporting large steel beams and columns to site and erecting them poses one risk, for example.
In an industrial setting, some mezzanines may require an opening to enable pallets to be moved on and off the platform. In this case, it is important to install appropriate pallet gates that offer full security at all times.
An important aspect that can often be overlooked is lighting. It is imperative that the mezzanine is well-lit throughout, because personnel are more likely to trip or lose their balance in dark areas of the space.
Why You Need To Consider Mezzanine Safety
Sadly, the number of fatalities and injuries at work due to falling from a height is significant. The United States Department of Labor has published data relating to incidents between 2011 and 2016, and during this time fatal falls to a lower level at work increased by 26%. In 2016 alone there were 697 deaths, and over the whole period there were 3,723 altogether.
In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) government body revealed that between 2018 and 2019 there were a staggering 44,400 injuries at work that occurred because of falling from a height. This works out to around 121 every day.
These statistics indicate the importance of taking precautions on mezzanines, to lower the possibility of falls. Aside from a duty of care to look after your employees, business-owners also need to think about the implications such an accident could have on their company. After suffering a fall-related injury, an employee is likely to need time off to rest and recuperate. During this time it might be necessary to find cover, which could lead to additional costs. Not only this, but there is every chance that the employee might seek compensation. Avoid a potential lawsuit by making sure your mezzanine is fully safe and designed to meet all relevant UK standards.
Mezzanine Safety Checklist
It’s a good idea to conduct regular checks in order to make sure the safety of your mezzanine is maintained. This could be done alongside other Health and Safety checks on a monthly, quarterly, or biannual basis for example.
During the inspection, ask the following questions:
- Are there any new employees? If so, have they had full safety training?
- Have we supplied safety training refreshers to long-term employees?
- Are all areas of the mezzanine free of clutter and/or other trip hazards?
- Are all the light bulbs in good working order?
- Are the edge protection and/or any pallet gates in good condition?
A mezzanine can provide the ideal solution to any working environment that is in need of more space, that is perhaps not optimizing the space they currently have access to. After making the decision to have a mezzanine installed, however, it is important to properly educate all those who will use it about keeping the environment safe.
The article was produced by Kirstin Monk, Marketing Manager at Hi-Level Mezzanines, one of Europe’s leading mezzanine floor manufacturers.
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