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.

Our New Loading Dock Gate

Closed loading dock gate

Our new loading dock gate providing fall protection at your dock door.

 

I often receive calls from customers who are looking for a gate system to provide fall protection for their workers at bays when the garage / overhead door is open.  Today I have the pleasure of announcing a new gate in our portfolio designed for just such a situation:  The Loading Dock Gate.

opening the Loading Dock Gate

The Loading Dock Gate is designed to easily lift out of the way with one hand

The Loading Dock Gate meets OSHA Standard 1910.23(c) providing OSHA compliant railing for your personnel at loading dock bays, which can be quickly and easily pulled out of the way.  The gate has a 42” and 21” high railing with a counter balanced design to swing up vertically 90° out of the way with only one hand.  Its unique compact design folds up as it pivots up and out of the way without pinch points.  When you’re finished unloading and ready to protect the opening again, the slam proof dampening system keeps the gate from closing hard as it is lowered.  The Loading Dock Gate is designed to be adjustable to fit standard 8’ or 10’ loading docks, and requires a 155” to 179” clearance height, depending on the width, to cleanly swing out of the way.   Constructed from heavy gauge steel with a powder coat finish, the Loading Dock Gate is built to last through repetitive use.

Open Loading Dock Gate

The compact design of the Loading Dock Gate rises out of the way without pinch points

If the Loading Dock Gate looks like it would work for you, please let us know, and we’ll be happy to work up a quote for you.  We’re going to try to keep a stock of these on hand at the factory so we can quickly ship them out to you.

Face Mounted Mezzanine Gates

Using both a face mounted and deck mouted horizontal sliding mezzanine gate to maximize usable opening space

Face mounted and deck mounted horizontal sliding mezzanine gates

When discussing mezzanine gate projects, a number of customers seem to have some confusion as to what is meant by face mounting a mezzanine gate.  I think in this post, I’ll go over the differences between deck mounting and face mounting and why you might want to mount your gate in such a way.

The vast majority of mezzanine gates are deck mounted.  This means that the gate system sits on top of the mezzanine deck back behind the rail.  Below are a few examples of the various gates we offer mounted to the deck of the mezzanine.
Deck mounted horizontal mezzanine gate

Deck mounted manual horizontal mezzanine gate behind existing hand rail

Stainless steel vertical mezzanine gate attached to the mezzanine deck

Deck mounted stainless steel vertical mezzanine gate.

Occasionally though, the gate is being used in an unusual situation where setting the gate on top of the mezzanine is not an option.  In these cases it might be better to mount the gate outside the mezzanine, attaching it to the face of the platform.  We would call this situation face mounted.
Face mounted mezzanine gate (older design electric horizontal gate)

Electric horizontal mezzanine gate face mounted to the deck

Not all of our mezzanine gates can be mounted to the face of the deck.    The most common gate that we would mount on the face of the mezzanine would be the horizontal sliding mezzanine gate.   As the gate needs to be tied back to your existing railing with clear passage in one direction approximately the length of the opening size plus two feet, pulling the gate outside the deck could help avoid interference with existing equipment up on the mezzanine deck.  In this case, a face mount track would need to be added and attached to the face of the mezzanine just below the opening to support the gate.
vertical electric face mounted mezzanine gate model

Vertical mezzanine gate mounted to the face of the mezzanine

Another gate that can be mounted to the face of the mezzanine is the vertical mezzanine gate.  The vertical mezzanine gate doesn’t take up much room on the deck of a mezzanine, so the applications where you would want to face mount are a bit more specific. Most commonly, this is done in situations where we are mounting an electric vertical mezzanine gate on the outside of a wall opening.  This would allow you to load and unload materials from the deck through a doorway while having a line of guard rail blocking the opening while the doors are open.  Another  situation where face mounting a vertical mezzanine gate might be advantageous, would be in situations where the left column (when viewed from below) would be against some obstruction such as a column.  The left column is the drive column and you’ll want to have it unobstructed just in case you need to access it.  By mounting the gate on the outside of the deck on a couple face mount brackets, the gate flips around placing the drive column on the right side.
Outside view from the bottom of pallet gate mounted around a door frame

Face mounted self closing pallet gate being used to guard a second story doorway.

Another gate that we can do as a face mounted unit would be the self closing pallet gate.  This is typically done in applications where the customer wants to mount the gate on a wall opening.  In such applications, we recommend you still have a second area for offloading the pallets from the deck.  While the self closing pallet gate is incredibly efficient at getting materials up onto the deck, offloading materials from the deck can be cumbersome due to the spring loaded hinges wanting to keep the gate closed.
If you ‘re trying to mount a gate in an unusual situation, perhaps mounting it to the face of the deck might help.  Give us a call, and we’ll be happy to work with you to try and find a solution.

Now Available, The SafeMezz360 Mezzanine Safety Gate

closed SafeMezz360 mezzanine safety gate

The new SafeMezz360 mezzanine safety gate

It’s an exciting time over in our mezzanine gate division.  Over the next year we will be introducing several new gates to our product line.  Today, I have the pleasure of introducing the first new gate to our regular product line up; the SafeMezz 360 mezzanine safety gate.

Open mezzanine safety gate

The SafeMezz360 mezzanine safety gate open to the edge.

Lately many facilities are opting to follow the voluntary ANSI standards in their workplace.   One area in which ANSI goes above and beyond OSHA would be ANSI MH28.3 Section 6.4.3 requirement that states: “A work platform shall be designed such that the elevated surface is protected by the guards at all times. Gates that swing open, slide open or lift out, leaving an unprotected opening in the guarding, are not acceptable.”   This means that at facilities following the ANSI standards, all pallet openings need to be protected by a true double layered safety gate so that your employees always have a line of guard rail between them and the edge of your deck.

In order to meet these more stringent ANSI requirements, the SafeMezz360 gate utilizes two counter balanced gates which travel on a track up and over your pallets.  Each gate consists of the ANSI required 42” top rail, 21” mid rail, and 4” kick plate. Designed for repetitive use in tough work environments, the SafeMezz 360 is constructed from heavy gauge steel with a durable safety yellow powder coat finish and utilizes an industrial duty chain and sprocket operating system.  The SafeMezz 360 mezzanine safety gate also features a slam proof cushioned dampening system to keep the gate from dropping on your toes.

The SafeMezz 360 is easy to install and operate.  The gates travel smoothly on 2” nylon rollers along it’s track system providing for an easy one-handed operation.  The gate ships in knocked down form for a simple assembly in the field, and bolts easily into place on the mezzanine.

In order to minimize the lead times, we have single and double wide openings available as “quick ship” mezzanine safety gates.  This means that many of the components will be prefabricated and stocked at the factory so that your gate should be ready to ship out in 1-2 weeks. Custom sized safety gates will still be available, but will need to go through full production (typically around 6 seeks after signed approval drawings).

Do I Need a Swing Gate on My Fixed Ladder?

 

Walk-thru fixed ladder with cage

Walk-thru fixed ladder with safety cage

Do you need a ladder gate at your ladder opening in your railing? According to OSHA 1910.23(a)(2) “Every ladderway floor opening or platform shall be guarded by a standard railing with standard toeboard on all exposed sides (except at entrance to opening), with the passage through the railing either provided with a swinging gate or so offset that a person cannot walk directly into the opening.”

This means that every ladder opening needs to be either (a) Offset so that a person cannot walk (or fall) directly into the opening or (b) Protected by a ladder safety gate. It is an easy either/or. The most common ladder installation locations are not offset and as such require safety gates. Below you will see some photos of ladders and top view sketches clarifying why each of their orientations either do or do not require a gate.

One quick note – there is often a source of confusion surrounding the OSHA standards because of the passage further in the standard (1910.23(c)(1) which states “Every open-sided floor or platform 4 feet or more above adjacent floor or ground level shall be guarded by a standard railing (or the equivalent as specified in paragraph (e)(3) of this section) on all open sides except where there is entrance to a ramp, stairway, or fixed ladder. The railing shall be provided with a toeboard wherever, beneath the open sides, persons can pass, there is moving machinery, or there is equipment with which falling materials could create a hazard.”

Many people had been incorrectly interpreting this believing that if their ladder opening was under 4’h, a gate was not required. OSHA has cleared up this misconception by stating “Unguarded ladderway floor openings and unguarded ladderway entrances on all surfaces should be cited under section 1910.23(a)(2)”, for all intents and purposes, if you have a ladder opening, it is required to meet OSHA 1910.23(a)(2).

Now that we know what the code requirement is, it is time to review a few common ladder mounting orientations to discuss where they fall under the code.

Fixed ladder mounted to side of platform

Fixed ladder mounted to side of platform

The above fixed ladder is mounted onto the side of the platform. Work is performed further down the platform but it is possible to fall directly down the ladder opening. This location is not offset and as such would require a swing gate. See the below top view sketch for clarification.

Top view sketch of side mounted fixed ladderway opening

Top view sketch of side mounted fixed ladderway opening

You can walk directly to the ladder opening from where work is/can be expected to be performed and as such, a safety gate is required at the ladder opening.

Fixed ladder with offset landing platform

Fixed ladder with offset landing platform

The above ladder accesses a platform and then turns to access the main walkway. This ladder is offset and would not require a swing gate at the opening.

Top view sketch of offset mounted fixed ladderway opening

Top view sketch of offset mounted fixed ladderway opening

As you can see above, if someone fell while at the main walkway they would fall onto the ladder landing surface, they would not fall down the ladder opening. If the ladder was rotated to the left side of the landing it would require a safety gate because then the ladder opening would no longer be offset.

Ladderway opening on side of catwalk

Ladderway opening on side of catwalk

Above is a very common ladder mount position. This one can be tricky until you lay it out from the top view. From first glance it looks like because the ladder is off to the side that it would be offset from the normal flow of traffic, but if you fell at that point of the catwalk there would be no guarding to protect you. A swing gate is a requirement at this location.

Top view sketch of catwalk side mounted fixed ladderway opening

Top view sketch of catwalk side mounted fixed ladderway opening

As you can see from the above sketch, there is a single direction of travel to the ladder from the catwalk. This is not offset. It would be a single direction fall into the ladder opening and as such, a ladder safety gate is required to protect your employees when a ladder is installed in the above orientation.

Most areas are not offset. A good rule of thumb is that if you can fall into the ladder opening with a single direction fall, then you are not offset. The only example above that didn’t need a gate was the second ladder location. With that orientation, you would fall onto the ladder landing and then hit the rear railing, not fall through the ladder opening.

Replacement Stair Rails

We recently were called out to a site with a corrosive environment that was in need of replacement stair rails as all of the original handrails were rusting and in disrepair. The paint was almost all chipped up, and some areas of the handrails were so corroded you had to choose between risking a fall by not grabbing the stair handrails, and grabbing the handrails but risking the need for a tetanus shot.

Existing railings corroded from damp environment

Existing railings corroded from damp environment

The above picture shows the lowest section with a bollard and chain assembly “protecting” the pit ladder that is bent, corroded and weakened at the base. It also doesn’t meet OSHA standards for rail heights or strength at top rail. You can also see the rusted handrail and stair rail. Anytime you have a damp environment it’s best to use a material besides carbon steel – Galvanized steel, aluminum or stainless steel all perform much better over time. Remember that corrosion doesn’t just make the metals look bad, but it also weakens them, substantially lessening their lifetime usability. Sure, the other metal options cost more than plain carbon steel, but when you have to replace the material before its time you have to pay for demo of the inferior material, fabrication of the new material, installation of the new material and have the lost time from the job being out of service during that process.

 

New hot dipped galvanized replacement stair rails and safety gate

New replacement hot dipped galvanized railings and safety gate

Here is the same view after we finished. We removed the bollard and replaced it with one with a more sturdy post and baseplate. The chains were removed and replaced with our MLG Ladder Safety Gate with a hot dipped galvanized finish. The new set-up is going to stand up to the moist, caustic environment much better and easily meets OSHA standards for guarding at a ladderway opening.

29 CFR 1910.23 Guarding of floor and wall openings and holes. “(a)(2) Every ladderway floor opening or platform shall be guarded by a standard railing with standard toe board on all exposed sides (except at entrance to opening), with passage through the railing either provided with a swing gate or so offset that a person cannot walk directly into the opening.”

New rails with OSHA required toe guard to prevent items from falling over the edge

New rails with OSHA required toe guard to prevent items from falling over the edge

All of the new handrails were done to OSHA standards with a 4” toe kick at the bottom, a 21” mid rail and a 42” top rail. Along the stairs, the stair rails were 34” high from the edge of the nosing. There was no wall mounted rail as the stair width is less than 44” wide and there is only one open side.

29 CFR 1910.23 (d) Stairway railings and guards. “(1)(ii) On stairways less than 44 inches wide having one side open, at least one stair railing on open side.”

 

Smooth, continuous handrail to maintain contact with rail throughout the climb

Smooth, continuous handrail to maintain contact with rail throughout the climb

The replacement stair rails are designed for a seamless transition between flights, allowing someone to slide their hand from the top rail to the bottom of the stairs without letting go of the rail. This gives a nice, clean look and also allows for safer access and increased strength of rails. Added strength also comes from the baseplate design with a four bolt pattern to maximize rail strength and minimize movement regardless of where pressure is applied front, back, top etc.

There were some unique challenges to this project with the winding rails, but with proper site dimensions and knowing the details about the installation environment, it was quite easy to supply this customer with replacement rails that fit and will last them a lot longer than their previous set.

 

 

Bi-directional gates are not SAFETY gates

Safety gates can be confusing. Don’t let them be.

Safety gates can be confusing. Don’t let them be.

We often get calls from customers looking for bi-directional safety gates, i.e. gates that do not have a stop and swing both in and out. Often these customers are looking for gates for staircases to hang signage on in order to “restrict access” beyond certain floors in staircases. The problem is that these gates do not meet OSHA standards for fall protection. OSHA’s guard rail standard requires a top and mid rail and requires the gate to hold back a minimum of 200 lbs. of pressure at the top rail. By definition, bi-directional gates do not meet that requirement, especially when used at the top of stairs. The best option for these customers is to use a self-closing and self-stopping gate, similar to our AG series of gate.

Stair safety gate mounted with the orientation requiring user to pull the gate towards them to walk downstairs. Coming upstairs, the user would simply push through the gate.

Stair safety gate mounted with the orientation requiring user to pull the gate towards them to walk downstairs. Coming upstairs, the user would simply push through the gate.

When used at the top of stairs, these gates can be positioned to require anyone going down to a restricted area to pull the gate towards them and descend the steps. They can also be positioned at the bottom of the steps requiring anyone going up the steps to pull the gate toward them to ascend the steps.

What you cannot do, and what is not safe by any means, is to do the opposite. If you install a bi-directional gate at the top of a staircase and someone falls into it, odds are they are going to have a very bad injury.

Bi-directional gates are not fall protection. They can actually give a false sense of safety creating more accidents.

Bi-directional gates are not fall protection. They can actually give a false sense of safety creating more accidents.

So take the extra second and install the proper gate for your location. Being safe is a LOT cheaper than cutting corners.

How to properly paint galvanized metal staircases and railings

What is hot dipped galvanized metal and why do people use it?

Before we get into how to paint over galvanized metal, let’s give a really quick background into what hot dipped galvanizing is and why people would do it.

Stair parts being lowered into a bath of molten zinc

Stair parts being lowered into a bath of molten zinc

Hot dipped galvanizing is a process that involves dipping steel into a bath of molten zinc. This process creates a coating that is metallurgically bonded to the steel, in essence becoming the outer layer and part of the steel itself.

Stair components coming out of the zinc bath

Stair components coming out of the zinc bath

The galvanized coating adheres to the steel at around 3600 psi, where other coatings, like zinc rich painting and zinc plating, adhere to the steel at a rate of 300-600 psi at best. The hot dipped coating has a hardness of between 170-250 DPH (Diamond Pyramid Hardness) as compared to the soft non-abrasion resistant coating of zinc rich paint or a 75 DPH hardness of zinc plating.  This is important as it shows why hot dipped galvanizing is such a popular means of corrosion resistance as opposed to other coating options out there.

How do I paint over hot dipped galvanized steel?

If you are looking for a finish other than the shiny or dull galvanization finishes (there are cosmetic differences between each in luster, but no corrosion difference between the two), you would need to do a duplex, or two part, finish to your product:  a hot dipped galvanized base layer and a painted top layer.

In order to paint galvanized metal you will need to first know whether the steel is:

  • newly galvanized (under 48hrs exposed, no zinc compounds built up on outside of steel),
  • partially weathered (day 2 to one year, some zinc compounds built up on outside of steel as well as possible dirt, grease, dust, etc.)
  • fully weathered (one year on, zinc compounds covering the entire surface.)

If the galvanizing is new you will need to profile the surface to give the paint something to adhere to. You will also need to grind down any bumps or drips that may be present from the galvanizing process as these will show through the paint. REMEMBER: Take care not to grind away the entire galvanized coating; using a hand grinder may be best practice to control pressure and grinding depth. For a partially weathered galvanized surface you will also need to remove any drips or runs, as well as the built up zinc compounds on the surface. For fully weathered surfaces you can skip those steps as the built-up zinc compounds are good for helping the paint adhere.

After you have profiled and/or prepped the surface you will need to clean the oil, dirt and other compounds from the steel. You can wipe down the handrails using a product like “simple green” to ensure there is no oil or other buildup on the material. Then you will need to use clean water to rinse the surface and dry it. Dry time to paint time should be kept to a minimum (under 12 hrs.) in order to avoid allowing any other contamination or build-ups to occur.

paint galvanized metal stair crossover

Stair crossover with yellow paint over galvanized steel handrails and stringers

What are some paints that are available for use over galvanized steel?

After the surface is clean and profiled you are ready to paint. A primer such as Sherwin Williams “pro-cryl” can be used. This primer dries fast and is corrosion resistant. You can top coat shortly after that with an acrylic coating paint like “DTM”. Check with your local paint supplier for additional options, as well as to get re-coat and cure times based on your temperature, humidity and paint thickness.

 

Vertical mezzanine gate in the down position

The Newly Redesigned Vertical Lifting Mezzanine Gate

Vertical mezzanine gate in raised position

Electric vertical lifting mezzanine gate in action

By Derick @ A-Mezz

Recently, the vertical lifting mezzanine gate received a redesign.  I’d like to take a moment to go over some of the modifications made to better assist our customers.

The most noticable change in the design was to how the gate moves along the columns.  In the old design the gate traveled to approximately 6” from the top of the column.  This would vary a bit depending on the size of the counterweight required.  We most commonly used a 12’ tall column which would allow for approximately an 8’ clearance height under the raised gate.   The gates operation has changed slightly.  We now typically use a 10’ tall column and the gate now travels beyond the columns by 6” allowing for a 7’ clear height under the raised gate.  As before, custom heights are still available, but by more efficiently utilizing our customers’ vertical space, the new vertical mezzanine gate is a great option in more locations.

Vertical mezzanine gate in the down position

Closed electric vertical lifting mezzanine gate

One of primary goals for the redesign was to improve the lead time.  In the old design, every mezzanine gate was a custom unit.  Each mezzanine gate would require its own set of drawings to be drafted, and would need to be made from scratch as the orders where approved.  In the redesigned gate, many of the components where standardized.  We are now able to provide our vertical mezzanine gate customers with their approval drawings typically in a day or two, and improved the overall production cycle as well to about 6 weeks on average.  To further improve our lead times, we took two of our most requested sizes and began stocking many of the components.  We can now typically ship out standard 6’ or 8’ clear width vertical mezzanine gates in powder coated mild steel in about 3 weeks on average.

Our vertical mezzanine gates have always been available in manual, electric, pneumatic with electric controls, or fully pneumatic for explosive environments.  From time to time we receive calls from customers who previously purchased a manual mezzanine gate and wanting to upgrade it to an automated unit.  Unfortunately with the old design there was no easy way to convert it, and the customers would need to replace the gate.  With the redesigned vertical mezzanine gate, a customer can purchase a manual gate, and in the future if they are looking to upgrade it purchase a kit to easily convert their existing gate in the field.  When the factory built their prototype, it only took them 15 minutes to convert a manual vertical mezzanine gate into an electric gate.

We’re really pleased with how the redesigned vertical mezzanine gate turned out.  The changes in the design have made a marked improvement in the lead times while not just maintaining its adaptability, but improving it.

 

 

 

 

 

Pedestrian Walkway Gate

pedestrian safety gate

MLG gate used as a pedestrian walkway gate

We were contacted by a customer in Texas who wanted to put up some safety gates to alert employees and visitors of their noisy location to the heavy vehicle traffic. They used our MLG ladder gates to accomplish this. The safety swing gates are installed so that the user must pull the gate towards them and then step through the opening. This way they cannot just cross the heavy machinery vehicle traffic without being alerted to the large trucks that constantly pass by.

Our powder coat yellow gate closely matches their existing handrail in both the color and rail dimensions. The gate swings one way, but it can be flipped on the horizontal and vertical axis to achieve a left hand swing, a right hand swing, and a swing in, or swing out.

In this instance the existing handrail was a 1-1/2” sq. tube so they were able to bolt the gate to their handrails using the supplied U-bolts. Installation took about five minutes per safety swing gate.

Why are gates needed in areas like this? Look at the below reminders for pedestrians when around fork lifts and heavy machinery traffic from OSHA’s website :

  • Be aware that lift trucks cannot stop suddenly. They are designed to stop slowly to minimize load damage and maintain stability.
  • Stand clear of lift trucks in operation.
  • Avoid a run-in. The driver’s visibility may be limited due to blind spots.
  • Be aware of the wide rear swing radius.
  • Use pedestrian walkways, or stay to one side of the equipment aisle.
  • Never pass under an elevated load.

OSHA suggests that plant managers separate pedestrians from lift trucks by providing pedestrian walkways with permanent railings or other protective barriers, adequate walking space at least on one side, if pedestrians must use equipment aisles or pedestrian walkway striping on the floor, and/or if barriers cannot be used.

OSHA requires that permanent aisles and passageways be free from obstructions and appropriately marked where mechanical handling equipment is used. [29 CFR 1910.176(a)]

For the above customer, our MLG ladder safety gates helped them meet OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.176(a) in a cost effective and safe manner.