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Ergonomics Drives Work Place Safety and Productivity

Workplace safety at loading and unloading terminals is enhanced when ergonomics is a consideration. SafeRack work platforms and gangways support ergonomic operation and help reduce strain and sprain injury.

We see a lot of loading and unloading terminals, but one thing that impresses us is when leadership engenders a workplace safety culture. True, every company has output requirements to maintain, as well as, EHS and OSHA compliance requirements. However, in our experience, those leaders who place an emphasis on workplace safety are also top performers in OEE and other performance metrics.

Many managers are taking workplace safety a step further and incorporating ergonomics into their safety programs. It's a growing concern among EHS professionals because of an aging workforce.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, one in three workers is over the age of 50, and the concern is that the older the worker, the greater the risk of injury.

Regardless of age, ergonomics considerations can significantly reduce the risk of strain and sprain injuries. These injuries are often caused by overexertion. We’ve seen cases where it’s not the aging worker, but aging equipment that causes workers to require more physical energy to operate.

How can you improve industrial and manufacturing ergonomics?

Take a look at your loading equipment and consider ergonomic improvements. Can you adjust the equipment to help it operate with less effort; for example, replacing or lubricating weathered industrial parts that no longer operate with ease?

Consider the age of the equipment and conduct a cost analysis to see if the productivity improvements of replacing the equipment outweigh the costs. Keep in mind that part of the cost includes any downtime. Often we find that aging equipment malfunctions and leads to downtime. For most busy terminals, the costs of downtime are significant and far outweigh replacement costs.

Should you decide to replace equipment, factor in delivery and installation to make sure you minimize any potential downtime or supply disruption. For some terminal operators there's a brief lull during certain seasons when they conduct planned maintenance. If you’re unable to leverage shutdown periods, then consider a supplier who can delivery quickly and whose installation is easy and the process efficient.

Learn more about ergonomic solutions for loading terminals.  Contact SafeRack today!

Fall Protection: How keeping workers safe can also keep them productive

Safety and productivity aren't mutually exclusive. While productivity should never come at the safety of workers, when it comes to designing a fall protection or crossover system, ease of use can enhance both safety and productivity. That's what NALCO Energy Services Division found when it worked with SafeRack to develop a gangway and fall protection system aimed at giving workers safe access to unload isotainers.

Engineering Safety and Productivity

The NALCO Freeport, Tex. facility produces raw materials for its other plants. Some of the materials required to produce these raw materials arrive in isotainers, which led to a project with two objectives:

  1. Provide workers with safe access to the tops of isotainers for safe unloading of materials
  2. Enable workers access to the isotainers without being tied off in a harness, and make the solution easy to operate

The first objective was fairly straight forward. However, the second objective is where the SafeRack team worked with NALCO Plant Engineer Bill Brown and his team to design an easy, more productive approach than the harness.

"Safety is definitely number one at NALCO," said Brown. "All of our operations, all of our projects take safety into consideration and it's our number one priority. If it's not safe, we don't do it."

The SafeRack team designed an adjustable safe closure that includes a cage and gangway. Workers can easily lower the safe closure manually over the existing floor atop the isotainer. A gangway is also lowered enabling workers to safely walk onto the top of the isotainer. The closure, which meets OSHA height requirements, was designed to eliminate any gaps between the cage and the existing floor.

"SafeRack was very responsive with their engineering group and their sales force," said Brown. He explained that the engineering collaboration identified NALCO needs and arrived at a viable cost-effective solution to meet those needs.

Learn how you can apply a fall protection system that encourages safety and productivity.

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Terminal Needs OSHA fall protection system

Storage terminal operators need a fall-protection plan

OSHA fall protection systems

To the well-known list of the unalienable American rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness you can add one more: a safe and healthful workplace for all employees. From tank truck drivers to loading rack operators, workers want, and are entitled to, appropriate protection from workplace hazards.

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