New Product: The Dock Defender Gate

Single rail defender dock gate - closed position

Spring is on its way.  Sunshine. Warmer weather. A gentle breeze carrying the scent of blossoms.  And along with it, a tendency to leave the loading dock doors open. But along with that fresh air also comes the risk of injury for your employees.  It’s a good idea to start thinking about how we can keep our employees from falling through those open dock doors.

A couple years back we introduced our current version of the loading dock gate.  Its compact, easy to use design protects your employees with a line of 2-rail handrail per OSHA.  But what about areas that have heavy fork truck traffic? OSHA handrail is designed to hold back a person leaning on it, but it’s not going to offer much resistance to a rolling fork truck.

opening single rail defender dock gate

After releasing the latch, the dock defender gate folds in half and swings out of the way.

Allow me to introduce the newest gate in our product line: the dock defender gate.  This heavy-duty gate system has been tested to stop a 13,500 lb fork truck moving at 6.5 mph.  Plus, when you need access, it folds in half and swings out of the way. It has either a single 42″ high beam or a double beam set up for additional security.  Standard opening widths are available in 6′, 8′, 9′, 10′, and 12′, but custom opening widths are available up to 16′. The dock defender gate ships out quickly in three pieces with all required hardware (including wedge anchors), making for a quick and easy installation.

2-rail defender dock gate

The Dock Defender gate si also available in a two rail configuration.

So go ahead.  Leave the doors open and enjoy the fresh air.  Let’s just do it in a safe manner.

Using a Pallet Gate to Protect a Second Story Doorway Opening

Second story double doorway used for pallet access from below

Second story doorway opening with snap chains

We are often contacted by customers looking for a pallet gate to use in an atypical application.  Most commonly they have a second story that has been closed off with walls and a set of double doors through which they load pallets from below.  We recently received some photos back from a happy customer out in British Columbia for whom we provided a solution for just such a case.

The customer wanted something more substantial than the snap chains across the door frame to guard the opening when the doors were open.  In order to assist them with this, we provided them with a customized self closing pallet gate.

A: The clear opening width of the doorway.  B: From the second story floor to the bottom of the door frame.  C: From the second story floor to the top of the door frame

The required dimensions to properly fit a pallet gate on a door framed opening

The gates on the self closing pallet gate need to freely swing inward and clear the existing doors.  The clear opening with on their doorway was 6’.  In order to save the customer some money we used our standard hoops for a 5’ clear opening width gate.  The overall width is approximately 5’6”, leaving about a 3” gap on either side when centered on their doorway.  If necessary, we could have gone with a custom width, but remember, the largest self closing pallet gate we can provide has a 6’ clear opening (approximately 6’6” overall) width.

Outside view from the bottom of pallet gate mounted around a door frame

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

As the gate wasn’t being mounted in the usual fashion to industrial handrail to the sides, we provided special angle brackets and longer columns to fix the gate to the wall above and below the door frame.  If the floor extended beyond the doorway, we could have gone with the angle bracket above and the typical floor mount brackets to mount it to the deck below.

Pallet gate guarding the open doorway

Inside view of the second story doorway opening being protected by the self closing pallet gate

With this gate in place, when the customer opens their doors, the opening is still protected with industrial use handrail.  Their fork truck driver just needs to push the pallet against the bumpered gates which will open as they load the pallet into position on the second story.  When the customer pulls the pallet away from the landing area, the spring loaded hinges will automatically close the gate, once again protecting the door opening until the customer closes their doors.

Commercial and residential roof hatches for pitched roofs

economy series roof hatch mounted on a pitched roof

Standard roof hatch on a pitched roof

We received this set of photos from a customer who used our “off the shelf” Economy Series Galvanized Roof hatch on a pitched shingle roof like you would find in many commercial and residential locations. The standard roof hatch comes with cap flashing and 1” thick rigid fiber board insulation along the curb of the hatch. For this installation, the customer removed the curb insulation from the hatch and bolted the hatch down to the roof. They wanted the most economical roof hatch solution that had a low profile to match the roof slope. Ordinarily we would suggest using a pitch corrected roof hatch on slopes greater than 3/12, but the infrequent use and need for a low profile roof hatch was more important to the customer than the advantages of the pitch corrected roof hatch. Below are some pros and cons of each setup to help you decide which solution is best for your situation.

Open roof hatch showing clearances on a sloped roof

Open roof hatch showing clearances on a sloped roof

Economy series hatch installed on a shingled, sloped roof

Economy series hatch installed on a shingled, sloped roof








Standard roof hatch on a pitched roof pros:

  • Low cost
  • Standard sizes most likely in stock for immediate shipment
  • Low profile on roof

Standard roof hatch on a pitched roof cons:

  • Cannot use roof hatch railing (roof hatch railing may be required by OSHA depending on your site conditions)
  • Increased strain on hardware – installation on pitches 4/12 and greater are not covered by warranty
  • Decreased opening area due to roof hatch angle (see above photos)
Sample pitch correction options for roof hatch curbs mounting on sloped roofs

Sample pitch correction options for roof hatch curbs mounting on sloped roofs

Pitch corrected hatch on a pitched roof pros:

  • Larger opening for exiting on a pitched roof
  • Less strain on the hardware
  • Roof hatch railing can be installed on pitch corrected curbs
  • Needed for warranty coverage on pitches of 4/12 and greater
  • Required for larger roof hatches on pitched roofs

Pitch corrected roof hatch on a pitched roof cons:

  • Slightly increased cost (made to order)
  • Increased lead time (made to order)
  • Taller curb on low end of roof may be more visible from ground level

Using the pitch corrected hatch for your pitched roofs over 3/12 gives you the standard manufacturer’s  warranty and can give you a larger opening to go through, but ultimately it comes down to your specific needs and what is most important for you. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Stairway Visibility Through Contrasting Colored Step Nosing

By Jared @

The other day, a friend called me up to discuss safety codes in regards to stairs. He was moving his son out of his apartment and carrying the sofa down the stairs. The rubber stair treads were in terrible shape, cracked, worn through and just in general need of replacement, which of course presents a safety issue on its own. The larger issue he had called about though, was stairway visibility. The stair treads had grit stripping in the nosing – which is a sandpaper-like tape, used for extra traction and visual awareness – on all but a few of the steps, one of which was the last step before a landing. Walking down the stairs backwards, carrying one end of the sofa, the bottom step – missing the strip – blended in with the landing below it, giving the false impression that he had reached the landing. As you could guess, stepping back, thinking that he had reached the landing, caused a bit of a stumble. I’m sure we have all experienced that moment of terror, where your heart jumps up an inch, your stomach is sucked up into your chest and your breath stops for a split second that feels like minutes. Luckily for him, he caught himself before fully falling down and walked away without injury. His story made for a great discussion on the topic of contrasting color for visual awareness.

One of the highest causes for accidents on stairways is poor visibility of both risers and treads. Poor visibility can cause people to misread the edge of a step, causing them to fall. One of the best and most cost effective ways to increase visibility is by providing a visual contrast on the leading edge of treads. According to the U.S. Access Board Research, safety yellow is the most ‘visually detectible’ color. GSA9 Aluminum Stair Treads displaying a black tread with contrasting safety yellow leading edge GSA9 Aluminum Stair Treads displaying a black tread with contrasting safety yellow leading edge

Whether or not the contrasting stripes are a requirement is a debated topic across the country. Because stairs are not part of an accessible route, ‘ANSI A117.1 Section 504 Stairways’ does not technically apply to the IBC. The misconception comes from the commentary for subsection 1102.1 Design. Visual contrast is not referenced into the IBC, so it only applies if the authority having jurisdiction has specifically incorporated the requirement into their set of codes. For example, all of California does require them. Also, according to ADASAD Advisory 504.4 Tread Surface, the contrasting color is not required, but strongly suggested. If you are unsure of the requirements in your area, check with your local building inspector.


Mezzanine Deck Types: Corrugated Roof Deck with Resindek

I thought it might be a good idea to begin a little series in which we discuss some of the different mezzanine deck types available.  To start things off, let’s talk about our most commonly used mezzanine deck type:  the corrugated roof deck topped with resindek.

Underside of corrugated roof deck

Corrugated roof deck, painted reflective white, as viewed from below.

As the name implies, roof decks with resindek is a two-layered mezzanine deck surface.  The structural component of the mezzanine deck is provided by a 1-1/2” corrugated steel roof deck.  The gauge of the roof deck used varies depending on the loads the mezzanine deck is designed to support.  The underside of the roof deck is painted white to help reflect light under the mezzanine deck.  The corrugation of the roof deck doesn’t offer a very useable deck surface, so it needs to be skinned with a second material — in this case, resindek.

Unfinished Resindeck mezzanine deck

Unfinished Resindek mezzanine deck surface

Resindek is a wood composite material specifically designed to provide a durable and affordable mezzanine deck surface.  There are different grades of resindek depending on the loads the mezzanine deck is designed to support.  Most commonly we will use an unfinished ¾” Resindek LD material which is designed to accommodate a combined pallet and pallet jack load of up to 2000 lbs.  If we’re designing the mezzanine to support heavier loads, varieties are available for all the way up to an 8000 lb max load.   It provides a smooth surface to roll your pallets across, both on and between panels, and doesn’t peel layers like plywood can.

Corrugated roof deck with resindek is easily our most popular mezzanine deck surface, largely due to its significant price advantage over other deck types.  There are, however, some situations where it would not be the best option.  As a wood based material, resindek can swell when it gets wet.  During installation you leave a gap between panels about the width of a nickel to accommodate some swelling, but if the deck will be in a wet environment it is not the recommended tool for the job.  In our next segment, we’ll talk about another deck type that would work better for wet environments.

What makes a mezzanine gate a mezzanine safety gate?

We offer a number of different varieties of gates to provide fall protection on your mezzanines at your pallet access locations, but only some of them are labeled as safety gates.  Aren’t they all safety gates? While all our mezzanine pallet gates are designed to protect your personal safety while working on elevated platforms, the gates are designed to meet different standards.

Self Closing Pallet Gate

Having only a single layer of gates, the self closing pallet gate is not considered a true mezzanine safety gate.

Gates, such as our self closing pallet gate, horizontal sliding mezzanine gate, or vertical sliding mezzanine gate, help keep your employees safe while working on elevated platforms, but are not considered true safety gates.  They are all single gate systems designed to meet the federal OSHA safety railing requirements for dimensions and loading.  This means that they have a 42” hand rail, a 21” mid-rail, a 4” high toe board, and can hold back 200 lbs. of pressure.  Because they are single gated systems, when the gate is open, you have a potential exposed opening on your mezzanine.  When using a single gate system, we recommend that you mark out a 6’ bubble around the opening, train your employees to remain behind that line when the gate is open, and post signage reminding them of this at the location.

Many of these single gate systems have some additional safety features built into their design. The self closing pallet gate was designed so that instead of needing to open the gate to lift a pallet to the deck, you can lift the pallet up and push it against the bumpers of the closed gate.  As you load the pallet the spring loaded doors will open up just enough to fit the pallet, keeping the sides closed off.  When you then pull the pallet all the way through from the top, the gate closes itself.  The controls for a manual horizontal mezzanine gate are all located behind your existing handrail so your personnel will always be behind OSHA hand rail while opening and closing the gate.  Even better, the horizontal mezzanine gate and vertical mezzanine gates are both available in electric operated versions.  This allows us to add additional safety features such as strobe warning lights and adjustable timers so the gates will close after a predetermined period of time if your employees forget to shut them.  With both control boxes being field wired, you can place them in a location within view of, but away from, the opening.

Dual Interlocked Vertical Mezzanine Safety Gate

Having both a front and back gate, the dual interlocked vertical mezzanine safety gate is an example of a true safety gate

True mezzanine safety gates have both a front and back gate, and are designed to meet the voluntary ANSI MH28.3-2009 standard (Section 6.4.3) in addition to the OSHA safety railing requirements for dimensions and loading.  Operating like an airlock, the double gated system allows access to the pallet for the fork truck down below or your personnel above, while keeping a line of guard rail between your employees and the edge of the mezzanine.  The pivoting mezzanine safety gatedouble drop horizontal mezzanine safety gate and the dual interlocked vertical mezzanine safety gate are all examples of true safety gates.  If your facility is following the ANSI standards and wants to put a mezzanine safety gate in a pallet opening, make sure it is a double gated system.

OSHA penalties for violations could be increasing

By Brett @ A-Mezz

Let’s dive into a little workplace safety tangent. Earlier this month an article came out of Wyoming pointing that their state legislators may hike the workplace safety penalties for companies found to be in violation of the state’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Currently, according to an publication, OSHA can assess a penalty of $1,500 to $7,000 for a ‘serious violation’. The OSHA definition of a serious violation is one where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result. This could be a situation that the employer was not even aware failed to meet federal safety standards. We come across this all the time when it comes to fall protection and machine guarding. If your roof hatch is open and employees are doing work in the vicinity, there is an opportunity for serious injury unless you use a roof hatch safety rail. Likewise, fixed ladders that do not have automatically closing ladder gates or offset orientations could also cause serious injury should a fall occur. Shop machines without proper guarding, and in some cases, without electrical interlocks, can also cause serious violations if your employees can gain access to movable parts without the machine shutting down.

OSHA also has a penalty for a “Willful Violation”. This they define as a violation that the employer intentionally and knowingly commits. The employer is aware that a hazardous condition exists, knows that the condition violates a standard or other obligation of the act, and makes no reasonable effort to eliminate it. OSHA can access penalties up to $70,000 for each violation. Knowing that areas lack proper fall protection but choosing not to address the hazard could easily put an employer into this category of violation. Should that violation result in the death of an employee the penalty can be increased up to $250,000 (or $500,000 if the employer is a corporation). Those fines are in addition to any legal amounts the injured or killed party may be awarded.

As Benjamin Franklin once put it, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Proper safety equipment is MUCH less expensive than ignoring a safety issue and having a costly accident.