A-Mezz Rigid Track Personal Fall Arrest System

Personal fall arrest systems are causing cages to go out of vogue with OSHA. As of November 2018 they will not count as fall protection on new fixed ladders and they will only count as fall protection on existing ladders until November of 2036. Note that if an existing ladder is modified at anytime, that modified section of ladder must be retrofitted with a personal fall arrest system at that time. 

Personal fall arrest system with body harness and trolley

Personal fall arrest system in use with body harness and trolley

We now carry a rigid fall arrest track that, when used in conjunction with a trolley and body harness, will meet OSHA’s new requirements for fall protection. The rigid track and trolley allow the climber to move freely up and down the track without needing to push, pull, or even touch any part of the fall arrest system.

Should an accident happen, your foot slips or you fall, the trolley on the fall arrest system will automatically lock onto the rigid rail, stopping your fall.

Tracks are available in 316 Stainless Steel or Aluminum with an anodized finish. The trolleys are designed for a single user and have a capacity of 310 lbs. Note: Two users are permitted to use a single track when used for rescue purposes, but never the same trolley. With that in mind, we suggest the single track and two harnesses and trolleys.

One track/trolley may get you by for most things, but if you ever need to have more than one person on the roof at the same time you will need to have a harness and trolley for each climber. If you do not, the first climber has to get to the roof, remove the trolley and harness, lower it by rope to the lower person who then has to put on the harness and climb up. Likewise, when work is done, one person has to climb down with the harness and trolley and then remove it, tie it to a rope for the upper climber to pull up, put on the harness and climb down… It doesn’t make much sense to us either.

Close up view of A-Mezz personal fall arrest systems utilizing rigid track.

Close up view of A-Mezz personal fall arrest systems utilizing rigid track.

The rigid tracks are installed in the middle of the climbing side of the ladder rungs. The fall arrest system clamps around the ladder rung every 4’ to 6’ to secure and can have multiple pieces of rigid track spliced together to accommodate long climbs without requiring a single long rail to be shipped, which saves on shipping costs. Often the increased cost of the system is offset almost entirely by the fact that the ladder does not need to have a cage anymore. Cages are costly to manufacture and especially to ship. Taking up 4’x4’x34’ of space on a truck isn’t cheap. We have seen some freight costs come back almost 1/7th what they were compared to caged ladders.

 

The New Pallet Rack Gate System: Improving the Safety on Your Pick Units and Pallet Rack Mezzanines

pallet rack gates protecting two bays of pallet rack

The Pallet Rack Gate automatically closes off the edge as the pallet clears the bay, protecting your employees.

We’ve been adding a number of gates to our mezzanine gate collection over the past year. Today I’d like to take a minute to talk about another of our newly added gates:  the Pallet Rack Gate.

The Pallet Rack Gate System is a self-closing gate designed to improve the safety of your pick modules with pallet flow systems or pallet rack based mezzanines, and are designed to meet or exceed OSHA railing standard 1910.23(a)(2) with a 42” high gate and mid-rail.  

As the name implies, it is specifically designed to integrate with your existing pallet rack. The universal hinge post brackets of the gate connect to the uprights of your pallet rack via U-bolts, minimizing the footprint of the gate, while allowing for an easy installation in minutes without the need for drilling.  The gates are designed to fit standard 60” wide or 96” openings in your rack system, but custom sizes are available. If you need something special we’ll be happy to look into it.

Then protecting multiple bays of rack, the intermediate gates would share a bracket at each upright to minimize the cost

The intermediate sections of the Pallet Rack Gate system combine both a left and right gate on a shared hinge bracket, minimizing the cost.

The gates are available as a single left gate with hinge bracket, a single right gate with hinge bracket, or if covering multiple connected bays of pallet rack, both a left and right gate connected to a shared hinge post bracket.  This helps keep the footprint and your costs down by minimizing the amount of material required.    

These gates are designed to stand up to the rigors of heavy use and require little to no maintenance.  They are constructed out of durable mild steel and have a safety yellow powder coat finish baked on.  The four stainless steel torsion spring hinges connected to each gate assure a safe and reliable operation.

The Pallet Rack Gate System is a simple, durable, and cost effective method of increasing the safety on your existing pallet rack mezzanine systems and pick units.  Give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist in laying out the design of the gates and working up a quote.  And if you’re looking to protect the base of your pallet rack from fork truck damage, or looking for a pallet rack itself, we’ll be happy to help with that as well.

Two Wall and Three Wall In-Plant Offices

two wall modular building system

Two wall in-plant office system utilizing the customer’s existing block walls

Many of the in-plant offices we provide customers are located around the perimeter of their building, and we are often asked about the possibility of utilizing the existing wall.  Depending on the site conditions, a two or three wall system could offer a significant cost savings versus a typical four wall in-plant office.  Today, I’d like to talk a little about how an in-plant office can utilize your existing building walls and some of the factors to consider if a two or three wall modular building system is a good fit for your space.

Panelized building system connecting to existing block wall

By utilizing the customer’s existing block wall, they were able to design a row of offices along the back wall of their facility without needing to reroute their existing lines

One thing to consider when thinking about designing a two or three wall in-plant office is what kind of walls are in place.  If we are going to utilize your existing walls, we are going to need to tie into them in a couple different places.  We will need to attach a piece of channel called a wall start from the floor to the top of the panel, wherever the panel would connect to the building wall.  As we typically use a corrugated roof deck to form the membrane that holds the building together, we will also need to attach an angle along the enclosed length of the wall at the panel height.  Because of this, the walls need to be substantial enough to be tied into.  Block, stud and gypsum, or concrete walls are great.  Steel skinned buildings are not.  The wall should also be even across the locations where the building would tie in.  If there’s a significant gap, such as in some brick walls, you’ll need to add some flashing to seal off the gaps into the building.  In some buildings there has been a wall built in front of the steel skin wall.  Remember to make sure the height of the front wall is taller than the height of the building panels.

Modular wall system above and below a mezzanine

A four wall in-plant office above the mezzanine with a two wall modular building system below the deck

Recently, we have done a number of mezzanine supported in-plant offices along the perimeters of the customers’ buildings, and are often asked if we could utilize the existing building walls.  The issue here, though, is that even though you might not realize it, there is some movement on the platform different from the existing building wall.  These forces would weaken the structural integrity of the building system.  At the ground level below the mezzanine, we can potentially utilize the existing building walls, but we would need to go with a four wall system on top of the platform.

two wall building system below a mezzanine

This two wall modular building system allowed our customer to separate production from the employee entrance.

A two wall modular building system offers a number of advantages, such as the ability to utilize existing windows/wiring, as well as a cost savings from using fewer materials and labor.  If you are looking at putting in some in-plant offices, it might be worth your while to consider going with a two or three wall building system.

Installation of the Mezzanine’s IBC Stairs

 

Finished L-shaped external IBC stair

Installed external IBC staircase

Previously, I had written a blog post briefly discussing how to put one of our mezzanines together. It had a lot of good photos taken during the installation, so I was able to go through section by section what was done.  There was one particular area I didn’t get to to over in much detail though; the stairs.  While with the previous system that I wrote about, the customer designed and fabricated their own staircase, I recently received a fantastic series of photos from the installation of another system; this time with partially installed stairs included.

installing the IBC stair

Setting up the stairs

The IBC stairs for or mezzanine systems ship in knock down form and need to be installed in the field.  When installing them, you’ll want to lay the stringers on the floor about 3’ apart with the closed face of the stringers inward.  The diamond tread stair treads consist of a closed back riser and stair tread weldment.  Starting with the top tread and riser, you’ll need to bolt the the tread to the stringer fastening it on the inside of the tread.  Only hand tighten the bolts at this time, then work your way down positioning the riser of the next tread behind the flat weldment of the nose on the tread above.  After all the treads have been attached to the stringers (hand snug) you’ll need to install the bottom riser using self tapping screws.  You’ll then need to hoist the stairs up to the mezzanine deck.  Making sure that the dimension from the top of the deck to the top tread is equal to the dimension between the other treads, you’ll need to field drill the the attachment holes using a 9/16” drill and attach it to the mezzanine system.  You’ll also need to install the top tread plate on top of the mezzanine deck closing off the riser from your first tread.  From the underside, you’ll need to tighten up all the bolts and attach the risers to the back of the above tread’s nose via a couple self tapping screws.  Afterwards you’ll need to anchor the stairs to the ground.

 

Now all that’s left is to finish off the handrail.  The hoops that form the 21” and 36” handrails and handrail extensions come already welded to the stringers.  On each of the uprights, you’ll need to attach an elbow assembly via self tapping screws.  This will provide you with the saddles to support the outer 42” handrail.  You’ll need to take a piece of guardrail pipe for each side, and lay them flush against the saddles, fixing them in place with self tapping screws once again.  As the top line of rail will be longer than the stair run, you’ll want to drop a plumb line from the bottom edge of the rail to the edge of the mezzanine deck and again to the front edge of the bottom stair tread, cutting the pipe square.  Finally, you’ll need to install a plastic plug cap in the openings of the top rail to finish it off.  

Mezzanine Supported Modular Office

Mezzanine with modular office above

Mezzanine supported modular office with a two-wall modular building below

Whether you’re running out of room on the plant floor or need to oversee production, mezzanines are commonly employed to support and elevate modular buildings.  Recently we received some great photos back on a project we completed last month for a mezzanine supported modular office that I thought you might like to see.  The customer was located right here in Northeast Ohio.  They were putting in a new line on the plant floor and needed to tear down some offices they had in order to make room.   There wasn’t enough space to relocate the offices elsewhere on the plant floor, so they decided to utilize some of their unused overhead space.

Side view of mezzanine and modular office.

A 9’ high mezzanine supported modular office with an 8’ high modular wall system below.

When thinking on putting in a mezzanine supported modular building, it’s important to consider just how much space is available.  Remember that with typical column spans in low seismic areas, you’ll probably lose 1’3” to 1’5” for the mezzanine itself.  If you plan on having people move through the area you will need to maintain a minimum of 7’ for clearance.  The modular building panels are typically 8’ or 9’ tall, and unless you are planning on supporting them by the structure above, you will probably want about a foot more in order to install the roof deck to the panels which helps form the membrane that holds the system together.   In this particular case the customer’s mezzanine had a clearance height of 8’7” with a 9’10” top of deck.  This provided us enough room to install a modular office above (9’ tall panels, 9’3-1/8” overall height, 8’6” clearance height) and an 8’ high (8’3-1/8” overall with a 7’6” clear ceiling height) modular wall system below.

inside modular building

Four wall modular office above the mezzanine with customer provided/ installed floor covering

While designing these mezzanine supported modular offices, we’re often asked if we can utilize the adjacent existing walls.  While this is commonly done on the main floor of a facility, unfortunately we cannot do this up on top of the mezzanine deck.   There will always be some movement and vibrations on top of an elevated structure and because of this the structure would need to be a four wall system and not tie into the adjacent walls.  In this particular care, we put in a four wall system above the mezzanine deck as well as a two wall system below the deck to create an enclosed pass way between the production floor, the front offices beyond the cinder block wall, and the production floor entrance way to the outside.

inside view of two wall modular wall system

Two wall modular wall system below the mezzanine

It took our installers 6 work days to unload and install (both mechanical and electrical) the 24’x10’ mezzanine, the 24’x10’ 4-wall modular office above, and the 9’x22’9” two wall modular wall system below, and we had yet another very happy customer.