Author Archives: Brett

Custom Crossover Bridge

This past year we were called out to a company who had some sprawling equipment. Because of the space required, their employees would be working on the second floor of the left hand mezzanine, and would have to climb down two flights of stairs, cross the forklift aisle, and climb up two more flights of stairs to access the left mezzanine to continue their work. As you can imagine, that was a huge inefficiency.

A-Mezz Crossover Platform loaded for delivery to install location

A-Mezz Crossover Bridge loaded for delivery to install location

We designed, fabricated, and installed a crossover bridge to allow them to quickly go from one machine to the next without requiring four flights of stairs to be climbed each time, and it also kept them out of the aisleway between the structures. Due to the elevation change between the two structures, we incorporated a stair at the left hand side of the bridge and fabricated the bridge stringers as one piece to allow it to safely reach each side without requiring any additional supports.

 

The left side was designed to mount on top of that mezzanine’s edge framing members and at the right we had to add additional steel to allow the crossover bridge to safely and securely attach to the side of the right hand mezzanine.

Installed A-Mezz Custom Crossover Platform

Installed A-Mezz Custom Crossover Bridge

 

Everything was painted to match their existing equipment. Ultimately, the customer liked the setup so much that they called us back a few months later to do another crossover just like the one we had completed for another location in their factory.  For more information on our custom fabrications please visit our website, email or call. 

Floor Door, Angle Frame, Features

A floor door is a great way to gain access to a mechanical pit or well. Floor doors are much safer than just laying a steel plate or wooden board over an opening, and they allow unimpeded traffic flow while not in operation.  Compare that to locations that have permanent handrails installed around an opening and always reduce traffic regardless of use. Also, floor doors are counterbalanced to help open and close the door safely.

Open floor door view of components

Interior floor door  view of components

Above you can see the counterbalance springs — they are the three cylinders mounted to the open door. Their quantity is dependent on the hatch material and size (i.e. weight of the door). There is also a hold open arm on the left side of the door to prevent the floor door from closing accidently. It also makes closing the floor door easier. At the top of the door is the slam latch. Simply close the door and it is securely latched.

Photo of open floor door

Exterior floor door tread plate

Around the bottom of the floor hatch there is an angle frame, as well as removable concrete anchor straps. This allows flexibility with the installation into existing locations as well as locations with a fresh pour of concrete.

Photo of closed floor door ready for packaging

Closed floor door ready for packaging

The outside of the door is a checker-plate pattern to provide some slip resistance.  Some floor doors are also available with a recessed well in the door to allow carpet squares to be installed. Which way is best is up to the install location. The check plate is easier to take a rolling load like a cart. The recessed well for floor tiles allows the hatch to blend in more with interior locations that already are carpeted. When used in an existing opening, the cover will sit above the mounting structure by ¼” – the thickness of the angle frame. Some installers leave that 1/4″ lip and some notch the floor slightly to make the floor door entirely flush. 

Angle frame floor hatch packaged and ready to ship

Angle frame floor hatch packaged and ready to ship

We can put all the greatest features into our floor doors but that doesn’t matter if the door arrives to you damaged, so they are never shipped loose. Above you can see the floor door safely wrapped in cardboard and banded onto a pallet with notes not to stack by the carrier. A little more time taken to make sure they’re packaged securely has helped eliminate almost all of the headaches that happen with freight damage and resulting freight claims.

Use Nose Caulk To Get The Most Life Out Of Your Stair Treads

Improperly installed stair tread

The most common reason for replacing rubber or vinyl stair treads is that the nosing is cracking or falling off. This type of damage is almost always due to the installer missing one very important step, drastically shortening the lifespan of a tread – not to mention also voiding your tread warranty due to an improper installation.

When installing rubber and vinyl stair covering, one of the most often overlooked but essential steps is putting in the nose caulking. Modern square nose stair treads have a channel on the inside corner of the nose which gives the nosing piece flexibility enough to fit any angle riser from 60° to 90°. Without filling that channel with nose caulking, you’re allowing the stair tread to flex in the most vulnerable spot. The more often that area flexes, the more vulnerable it becomes, and sooner than later, you’ll get a crack which spreads across the nose.

Epoxy Nose Caulk

Epoxy Nose Caulk

There are two options for installing nose caulking; you can find both options on our FloorMat Store website. The easiest option is to use a dual cartridge unit and a dual cartridge caulking gun, that covers 50 linear feet per unit. Just pop the cartridge in and squeeze a small bead along the inside of the nose bend. If you are taking your time with the installation, or breaking up a large job, make sure to order extra nozzles too, so you can cap the unit between uses.

nose caulk gun

Nose Caulk Gun – Dual Cartridge

The other method is a two part quart unit, which is a bit more difficult, but a lot more budget friendly. You mix the two parts as directed on the side of the cans, and using a trowel or putty knife, slip some in place along the nosing. A single quart unit will cover 75 linear feet if properly mixed, used before dried and applied correctly. Remember, once mixed, you’re fighting the clock; try not to take a break from installing, or you may come back to find your mixture has already set.

Quart Can of Nose Caulk - covers ups to 75 LF

Can of Nose Caulk – covers ups to 75 LF

If you are installing stair treads over steps that have worn edges, make sure that you use a heavy hand when applying the nose caulking, so it can properly fill out the area to give a solid backing to the tread.

Floormatstore.com

Catwalk Bridges Can Save Space and Improve Efficiency

Recently we’ve been out to a local shop for a lot of projects. This time we were called to supply some catwalk bridges. This helps them better utilize their existing space by gaining extra storage and workstation space from the areas they already had. They have several buildings in their facility that were capable of housing light storage on top of them. Ordinarily, the easiest way to access these spaces is through a pre-engineered steel staircase. The problem you run into when you have many buildings in relatively close vicinity to each other is that floor space is a premium; you can’t afford to block off aisle ways with stairs, and even if you have the space to accommodate multiple stairs to access multiple buildings, it is not very efficient having to run up and down stairs from one structure to go to another.

One stair was put in place to access a central building and then a couple of catwalk bridges were fabricated and installed to access the ancillary modular buildings. The catwalk bridges were fabricated so they could be lifted into place with a forklift truck. This allowed for quick, easy installation. This also allowed the customer to remove them relatively quickly should they need the additional vertical clearance to bring larger machinery through their aisles.

Catwalk bridges between block wall and modular building

Catwalk bridges between block wall and modular building

Attachment to their existing cinder block structure was easy, but mounting to their modular buildings required some extra consideration. Modular buildings are weakest at the panel locations. We supplied angle so the customer could span the angle from multiple posts on the building and then fasten the bridge to the angle. This distributed the load of the bridges across two sturdy posts per side instead of hitting a potentially crushable panel.  The catwalk bridges were not going to be centered directly over their panels so the angle was sent extra-long to allow flexibility in their bridge locations.

The customer now has access to multiple interior building tops for additional workspace and storage, and hasn’t sacrificed much room on their floor now that they utilized crossover bridges to open up their previously unusable  spaces.

Standing Desks – How to Make the Transition Stick

Standing desks be great for your health and productivity

Standing desks be great for your health and productivity

Over the past couple of years, in the matting department, we’ve been noticing a new trend:  standing desks. The first time I had a customer inquire about mats for the standing desks they were switching to, my mind was boggled. I believe the line running through my mind was, “But chairs are so comfortable”. Sure enough though, they were ditching their chairs in favor of a more upright position. And they sure weren’t the only ones. A fairly sizable chunk of our anti-fatigue matting sales over the past two years have been simple 2’x3’ mats for standing desks.

Intrigued, I looked into the benefits. A simple Google search pulled up a lot of information. A lot of the lists of benefits seem to stem off of each other, and a lot of the studies are done using far too small of pools to prove logical thinking, but the gist of it is: standing desks can help you live longer (via reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and fighting weight gain/obesity) and improve productivity (via improving energy levels).

There are a lot of negatives that go along with standing for long periods of time though, such as fatigue and pain in your feet, legs and back, bad blood circulation and varicose veins. The best way to counter these negatives is by sitting, but if you use a standing desk, using an anti-fatigue mat can help reduce these symptoms. You can find many different models for different applications on FloorMat-Store.com, but for a general office type setting, you can’t really go wrong with a Tile Top mat; it is durable, inexpensive and has a simple design. If you can make the transition more comfortable, chances are less initial push-back will happen and the change will stick around long enough to reap the benefits.

By: Jared (www.floormat-store.com)

OSHA Changes Ladder Fall Protection Requirements (OSHA 1910.28)

OSHA is on fire! Breaking news! WOW!

Ok now that we’ve got that out of our system… We don’t usually have many changes out there when it comes to OSHA standards but there are some industry changing updates coming that will change a lot of things.

Cages will not be required on fixed ladders after mid November of 2018.

Caged ladders to be phased out for other fall protection options

Caged ladders to be phased out for other fall protection options in 2018

Currently, under OSHA standard 1910.27 cages are required on ladders where the climbs are over 20’h. In OSHA’s new standard (OSHA standard 1910.28) taking effect 11/19/2018, ladders will not be required to have fall protection until their height is over 24’ (24’-0-1/4” requires fall protection). OSHA will also be requiring ladders installed after 11/18/2018 to have fall protection in the form of a personal fall arrest system or ladder safety system (not a cage). If you have cages now, don’t worry, you will be grandfathered in for twenty years.

So, why the change? OSHA is aligning the fixed ladder standard to be more in line with the ANSI standard A14.3, which in 1979 changed its fall protection height requirement from 20’ to 24’.

Why are they telling us now when the rule won’t go into effect until 11/19/2018? OSHA wants to give the industry time to update products and procedures before they go fine crazy. You CAN now follow the new OSHA rule 1910.28 even though it is not in effect yet. You would not be meeting the current OSHA standard, but you would be in compliance with the future OSHA standard. OSHA would consider this a “de minimis violation”. De minimis violations are violations of standards which have no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health, and do not result in a citation, or penalty and need not be abated. 

How does this help you? Well, if your floor to floor height is between 20’ and 24’, you will no longer need to have a cage on your ladder. First off, this can save you LOTS of money. Why?  Not only is it easier to fabricate an uncaged ladder, but there is less steel involved in making the ladder, and also, due to the size a caged ladder takes up on a truck compared to an uncaged ladder, caged ladders can cost 2-4 times as much to ship than their uncaged counterparts.  Another advantage of losing the cage is that you decrease its visibility from the roadside. Without the large cage the ladder is tougher to see from a distance, increasing your buildings visual appeal as well as decreasing the chance that kids looking for a cool place to skateboard, copper thieves, and other people you don’t want on your roof will see the ladder as they pass.

All this being said, when OSHA’s standard mandated cages on climbs over 20’, A-Mezz still offered cages on ladders that only had a climb of 10’ or so and we will continue to offer cages for customers who prefer the added safety of a cage for those shorter climbs. We have gotten feedback from many customers who prefer having a ladder cage because that safety barrier is always in place. You can’t forget to bring a harness with a cage so safety is increased. It is the same argument that makes ladder safety gates so popular and efficient as opposed to ladder chains. Chains only work if the person before you closed them. Ladder safety gates are always in place, always swing closed and always protect you. The same goes for a fixed ladder cage which adds some protection for climbers regardless of whether they have a ladder harness or not.

Replacing old dock stairs

We were recently called out to a site with a dock access stair that had seen better days. It got a lot of use, but by the looks of it, had been neglected from a maintenance standpoint. Enamel paint is a great finish if it is maintained, but when left outside around the salt and high traffic to be found on a dock stair it won’t take long to rust without maintenance.

This stair had the painted stair tread nosings all rusted away to a brittle, porous edge. The stringers and support columns all had given way to rust beyond what was fixable with a repair job.

Dock stairs in need of replacement

Dock stairs in need of replacement

The most economical solution for our customer was to have a replacement set of stairs fabricated and hot dipped galvanized. The cost of repair – cutting the current stairs apart, brush/blasting the existing rust out, cutting steel to weld into deteriorated sections, grinding and painting the product –  all in the field would have taken much more time than having replacement stairs fabricated in the shop and brought out to the site. Furthermore we didn’t want to put a “Band-Aid” on the existing stairs by repairing them, knowing the customer wanted to have something in place to forget about. Fabricating a new stair with a hot dipped galvanized would greatly increase the lifespan of the stairs. There is no touch-up painting required and galvanized products can last 5x as long as painted steel.

 

A-Mezz did a site visit to verify conditions and get the existing stair’s measurements. During the visit it was determined that the floor wasn’t completely level. We made the support columns slotted to allow for minor adjustment in the field. This will be more user friendly than making the stair flat and requiring shimming. We didn’t want to fabricate each leg a different length should they one day move it to a new location or have the floor surface refinished in the future.

 

A-Mezz fabricated and pre-assembled as much of the stair and landing as possible in the shop to minimize the time on site with door access out of service as this was a busy dock entrance door. The existing stairs were demo’d and the new stairs were installed in all one morning.

A-Mezz galvanized steel replacement dock stairs

A-Mezz galvanized steel replacement dock stairs

The customer’s new dock stairs will have a long service life due to the hot dipped galvanized finish. The stairs will be able to tackle snow and ice easily with the bar grating treads, and look attractive for years to come – all at a price that was less than repair.

Fixed Ladder Installation – the process from start to finish

A customer called asking for a safe and secure means of accessing their roof and us to do a fixed ladder installation. They have a building that has multiple tenants and didn’t want to have to go through the tenants’ space every time roof access was needed, so an interior ladder and roof hatch combination was off the table. This happens more often than not either because they don’t have a good location inside to mount the ladder or they don’t want to make a hole in their roof.

We went out for a preliminary site visit to verify what the job would entail. The location that was chosen to mount that ladder at was flat from floor to roof. There were no gutters so we would not have to worry about having to either start and stop the gutter and add another down spout, or add a step across platform at the top of the ladder to keep within OSHA’s requirement of a maximum step across a distance of 12”.

Installation site for caged ladder

Installation site for caged ladder

There was a slight parapet at the top of the wall so we set up the extension ladders to verify that the parapet was under 14”high so we would not need to have a crossover ladder with return on the back. We did elect to modify the walk through handrail to remove the return down to the roof to allow more flexibility with installation. Using the self supported walk through handrail allowed a proper fit regardless of the parapet thickness.

Materials were fabricated and shipped to the jobsite where the installation crew attached the lower and upper ladder sections together with the supplied brackets. Next, the ladder was hooked up and elevated into place by a forklift boom. By securing the ladder a little lower than the top, but well past the weight ½ way point, we were able to safely use a shorter, readily available lift and avoid the added cost of additional machine rental.

Lifting the fixed ladder into position

Lifting the fixed ladder into position

The ladder was also outfitted with the LG6 6’ security ladder rung guard to prevent unauthorized access to the ladder. Once hoisted into place, ½” sleeve anchors were inserted into holes drilled into the block and turned until expanded properly, securing the ladder to the wall. For this ladder 18 anchors were used, distributing the 650# ladder and 300# capacity load to well below the tension and shear values for sleeve anchors with the recommended 1-7/8” minimum embedment and a 4:1 (25%) safety factor. Installation was completed in just one morning by a crew of two.

Completed installation of fixed ladder

Completed fixed ladder installation

Replace stairs in tight fit locations and meet code

Many locations have old stairs that need to fixed or replaced due to age, damage etc. Generally speaking regardless of the code in place when the original stair was made, you will need to update your stair to the current building code (IBC) when you replace stairs.

OSHA staircase, replace stairs

Stair meeting OSHA standards

3404.1 General. Except as provided by Section 3401.4 or this section, alterations to any building or structure shall comply with the requirements of the code for new construction. Alterations shall be such that the existing building or structure is no less complying with the provisions of this code than the existing building or structure was prior to the alteration.

This becomes an issue when stairs are installed in tight locations under codes that vary greatly from today’s current International Building Code (IBC) variants.

Imagine having a 12’ high stair in place with a riser height of 9” and a tread depth of 9”. This stair would have (16) treads, 9”deep for a total run of 11’3”.

If the replacement stairs would be required to meet IBC code (adopted by all of the states) they would now need to have (20) treads, 11” deep for a total run of 18’4”. The IBC stairs would extend 7’1” further than the originally installed stairs.

The increased run and decreased slope can wreak havoc on your facilities if the original stairs stopped right before a hallway (new stairs would extend well into the hallway) or if the stairs are enclosed (new slope would cause head clearance issues with existing structure).

If the above situation applies to you don’t sweat it. The above referenced IBC code section does have an exception that may help

Exceptions:

  1. An existing stairway shall not be required to comply with the requirements of Section 1009 where the existing space and construction does not allow a reduction in pitch or slope.
  2. Handrails otherwise required to comply with Section 1009.12 shall not be required to comply with the requirements of Section 1012.6 regarding full extension of the handrails where such extensions would be hazardous due to plan configuration.

 

Why the exemption for stairs (and possibly ramps, though not specifically called out)? The thinking behind the exemption is that without it, stairs that need to be replaced and are not safe will be neglected and not maintained due to the inability to bring them up to current codes. It is better to have a well maintained stair meeting an earlier code than have a poorly maintained stair that doesn’t meet current codes.

Steel Fixed Ladder Handrail Options

Does my ladder need a handrail?

Almost all ladders will have an extension at the top, with the only exceptions being ladders accessing roof hatches, manholes, floor doors, or anything else that closes over the top of the ladder. If you are exiting the ladder to the side or going to an offset platform due to the 30’ maximum climbing distance between ladders, you will need to add four more rungs above the platform. Those rungs are only to be used for hand-hold only, to give you something to grab onto to safely exit the ladder.

 

Side step ladder platform for climbs over 30' in length

Side step ladder platform for climbs over 30′ in length

If the ladder is going up to a wall, to a roof, or to a mezzanine, then you will need extensions on the ladder for the “walk-through” exit of the ladder.

We have three different designs of walk-through handrails and I’ll go into the details on each of them below.

Steel ladder handrail options

Steel ladder handrail options

The first design, the “8” shape, is our standard ladder design. This is the most commonly used handrail setup as it allows for the top of the walk-through to mount to the landing surface, providing the greatest rigidity at the handrail. It also makes installation easy, as there are no questions where the top rung mounts; it is always installed properly meeting the top of the landing surface as required by code.

In cases of short parapets or locations where you cannot have the walk-through handrail anchor to or even set upon the roof you would use the second “P” profile, our “self supported walk-through handrail”. This handrail design works well when there is a parapet under 14” high that the handrail mounting pads would not line up with. It is not a necessity to use the “P” shaped handrail in those instances. Many installers still prefer the “8” layout for the added cross brace back to the ladder. When installing a ladder with our self-supported walk-through handrail, be sure to install properly, with the top rung level with the top of your roof. There is no foot pad at the top to ensure this is done, so installation just requires a check to be sure of compliance.

The last ladder handrail design is our “customer supplied walk-through handrail”. This is used in instances where the installation location has existing railing and handrails that they want to weld the walk-through handrail to. This is useful in locations where space is minimal and existing site conditions allow for field welding to existing rails.

Not shown is our step across platform, which is essentially a crossover used when site conditions require the ladder rung to be more than 12” away from the landing surface as required by OSHA standards. Most commonly, this is used on locations with gutters that are more than 5” off the face of the climbing side of the wall.

OSHA 1910.27(d)(3)

“Ladder extensions.” The side rails of through or side-step ladder extensions shall extend 3 1/2 feet above parapets and landings. For through ladder extensions, the rungs shall be omitted from the extension and shall have not less than 18 nor more than 24 inches clearance between rails. For side-step or offset fixed ladder sections, at landings, the side rails and rungs shall be carried to the next regular rung beyond or above the 3 1/2 feet minimum (fig. D-10).