Using the mezzanine floor of a warehouse can create at of extra valuable space, ofttimes doubling and tripling usable space.
Using a Mezzanine, however, creates safety concerns for your workers.
With the right safety equipment and construction, policies, and worker education warehouse owners can minimize the hazards associated with warehouse mezzanines and create that additional warehouse space you need.
Height and Guard Rails
One of the potential hazards you can’t eliminate is height. Mezzanines, by definition, occupy space above ground level. Most are at least four feet above the ground.
The falling hazard can be mitigated utilizing several different options depending on the type of mezzanine and access.
Installing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliant guide rails will protect against falls from the mezzanine platform.
The OSHA standards for guard rails are clear and straightforward. The requirements state that the top edge must be forty-two inches, plus or minus three inches, above the walking or working area.
Depending on specific circumstances, not specified, you can exceed the forty-five inch maximum.
OSHA also requires some sort of screen or wall installed from the walking or working surface to the top edge unless an existing wall is at least twenty-one inches tall.
Other Types of Height or Fall Protection
If you can’t for whatever reason install guard rails, you need an active fall arrest system. This could be a full-body harness to prevent an individual from falling.
The system must have suitable anchors that can withstand appropriate loads.
If you use an active fall arrest system, only employees with appropriate training should use the harnesses and access the mezzanines.
Mezzanine Safety Gates
Many warehouses load and unload product from a mezzanine. This requires leaving some portion of the mezzanine platform open or exposed.
To mitigate the hazard this poses, a warehouse can install some a mezzanine safety gate.
Using a horizontal or vertical opening gate will depend on the mezzanine configuration.
Safety features of mezzanine gates include:
- Mid rails.
- Timers for auto-closing.
- Self-closing gates.
Manual lift or automatic lift gates are available also.
Fire and Hazard Code Compliance
Federal, state, and local governments impose various building codes and other requirements concerning worker safety.
When planning a mezzanine installation, review all applicable laws and regulations before installing or constructing a mezzanine.
Sometimes the warehouse may need additional sprinklers or other equipment to conform to the laws.
Most workers will access a mezzanine by using a stairwell. Stairwells add to the danger posed by improperly secured mezzanine platforms.
Stairwell accidents happen due to:
- Slippery Steps.
- Poor Lighting.
- Objects on the Stairs.
- Damaged Steps
Install enough lighting to outline the staircases. Company policy documents must insist on keeping stairwells clutter-free.
Consider appointing a Safety Officer to ensure compliance. Supervisors should regularly check stairwells.
Warning signs and positive barriers like tape should be used when mopping and cleaning stairwells, and access for workers denied until the stairs are dry.
Have a certified engineer confirm the load restrictions of the mezzanine and ensure those weight restrictions are not violated.
If the mezzanine is used for storage, whenever you come close to the limits, ensure you consider the weight of workers or machinery that access the area for loading and unloading.
Policies and Signage
Clearly written mezzanine policies, safety classes, and safety refresher classes with mandatory attendance by workers are probably the most important things a warehouse manager can do to keep workers safe.
Use appropriate signage throughout the mezzanine, multi-lingual as required by law and by the cultural makeup of your staff.