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7 Ways to Improve Workplace Safety

Our company’s mission is to help industrial workers return home safely from the job every day. So it’s even more imperative that we practice what we preach and ensure that our own safety practices meet or exceed industry best practices.

Our own Quality Engineer and Safety Manager George Biggs shares some of his team’s best practices that are keeping workers safe and have contributed to their year-to-date record of zero lost time accidents. His plant manufactures SafeRack, ErectaStep, RollaStep and YellowGate brand fall protection and access systems for industrial work areas.

  1. Hazard assessments
    Assessments are effective in determining where potential safety risk lies. They provide an overall view of plant safety and identify specific improvement areas. It should be noted that safety assessments are not a substitute for daily awareness of work conditions, and applying the “see something say something” philosophy to immediately correct a hazard. (See “Weekly Safety Audit” below.)
    “Often we grow accustomed to our work environment and aren’t aware of some of the less obvious safety issues. Assessments give us a closer look. They ensure that safety risks are properly addressed,” said Biggs.
  2. Weekly safety audit and toolbox meeting
    The weekly safety audit ensures that the gains from the safety assessment are maintained and identifies any new safety issues since the last assessment was conducted. Weekly toolbox meetings are brief and less formal, but an effective way to handle quick-fix safety issues or escalate them if required. They’re also good opportunities to identify worker safety training or refresher training that may be needed.
    The following infographic was based on data from a SafetyToolboxTalks survey taken July 16, 2014.
  3. Integrate safety into production meetings
    Production meetings provide another forum to raise awareness of safety. Often safety issues affect production. The resolution to some safety issues can result in productivity increases. We see this in our own business. Our worker access and fall protection systems enable workers to move more freely and with confidence knowing they’re protected. The result is greater productivity.
  4. Visual board
    Borrowed from Toyota, visual boards increase awareness of safety and encourage safety each day. The board consists of nine safety elements:
    1. Green cross - The goal is to have a green cross at the end of the month and the board gives employees a visual reminder of their progress. Yellow blocks indicate a medical incident and red blocks a lost time accident.
    2. SafeRack PPE Person – Interjecting a little humor, PPE Person reminds workers what personal protective equipment is required.
    3. Employee safety pie chart – Each employee has the opportunity to place his or her safety issue/information on a slice of the pie.
    4. List of near misses – This serves as a reminder to avoid future potential safety issues or incidents.
    5. List of accidents – Identifies a safety issue that must be addressed
    6. Wellness newsletters and general safety information
    7. Ergonomics and ventilation – provides tips on reducing strain and sprain injury and lets workers know what’s being done to improve the overall work environment.
    8. TRR – Total Recordable Rate indicates progress toward a zero-incident workplace
    9. Egress Map
  5. Hands-on Safety Training
    This is a highly effective method for teaching and reinforcing safety practices on the job. “I bring real-world examples to the training,” said Biggs. “At the end of each training session, I asked questions about the previous training session to reinforce learning. I also use funny cartoons, which I find makes the training more engaging and the lesson more memorable.”
  6. Going Green for Safety
    Green initiatives can provide a new perspective on safety and reducing potential hazards. “Our safety team is currently working on going green by removing all non-desirable cleaning chemicals and replacing them with employee- and environmentally-friendly solutions,” said Biggs.
    SafeRack Safety Team - Help improve industrial safety and fall protection
    SafeRack "Green Team" from left to right: George Biggs, Jimmy Collins, Scott Fisher, Dustin Cox and David Garner (absent).
  7. 2 Operators on Machinery
    Some of the most serious and often fatal industrial accidents occur when machine operators are alone. By the time the first call for help is heard, it’s often too late when it comes to fast moving machinery. A team of two workers when operating machinery prevents a malfunction or operator error from becoming a serious accident.

A true story...
“In a previous company, our rule was to always have two people when working on machinery and never let a person work on a machine alone. There was a large mill on the end of my line. It had stopped, and we couldn’t get it started. I called maintenance and they sent an experienced person who told me I didn’t need to stay, but it was our policy to have two people present, so I stayed anyway. The technician got down in the machine and when he made the limit switch, the mill started. He had nowhere to go. I hit the emergency switch and killed the power, but the mill continued turning with just the power from the weight of the mill. The technician’s coveralls became entangled in the blade. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt, but it was a very close call.

Safety rules are in place for a reason. Ensure that everyone follows them. Look at your hazard assessments, apply safety principles, and above all, involve everyone in safety to avoid near misses or worse.”

Give us a call to help assess any safety or fall protection hazards. 866-761-7225.

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.

Kelso Technologies Inc.: Business Development Alliance With SafeRack

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA and DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS--(Marketwired - March 20, 2014) - Kelso Technologies Inc. (TSX VENTURE:KLS)(OTCQX:KEOSF) - The Company reports that it has formed a strategic business and engineering alliance with SafeRack Loading Rack Technologies ("SafeRack"). The goal is to incorporate Kelso's one-bolt Kelso Klincher(R) Manway ("KKM") technology as an integral part of a new generation of high-capacity crude oil loading terminal systems designed and provided by SafeRack. SafeRack is the leading expert in crude oil and liquid natural gas loading terminal engineering, procurement and construction services for the railroad and trucking industry.

Under the arrangement Kelso and SafeRack have successfully developed and tested a fully functional loading arm adaptor that fits both the KKM and older hinged 6 and 8 eye-bolt manways currently in service on tank cars in North America. The adaptor attaches permanently to the existing loading arm apparatus and connects the loading arm to any existing manway in service today. The adaptors are a minimal expense when measured against the substantial capacity gains they will produce hence addressing the concerns of additional capital expenditures required to convert loading terminals that top load HAZMAT.

SafeRack and Kelso are currently educating HAZMAT shippers on the compelling economic advantages and operational benefits for the commercial adoption of the KKM which include:

Read more at the Wall Street Journal Online: http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20140320-907908.html

Is Your Fall Protection Plan Lucky or Safety?

When a worker survives a fall unscathed, we often hear someone say he or she was "lucky." While that may be true, luck, good fortune or guardian angels are no substitute for an effective fall protection plan. We talked to numerous customers about their fall protection plans to come up with the following four pillars of our SAFE fall protection plan. Think of them as your lucky four leaf clover.

1. See This first pillar involves identifying where the greatest risk of fall lies. Conduct a fall hazard analysis of the work area and identify the extent of the hazard and what you can do to eliminate or mitigate risk.

2. Act Assign and empower a safety team. In many companies the safety team has the authority to act on safety issues, especially issues that can be remedied quickly. For those safety issues that may require additional investment, the team acts as a liaison with management to escalate the safety issue and work toward a remedy.

3. Follow-up This pillar refers to issues previously addressed as well as changes that may have introduced new safety issues. Follow-up is the equivalent of continuous improvement. It's about continuously seeking to improve safety through policy, practices or new / improved personal protection equipment (PPE).

4. Engage Companies with the safest records also have a high rate of engagement and awareness in safety among colleagues. Whether it's through safety-specific training programs or operator training programs that integrate safety, these companies continually cultivate a safety mindset into everything they do.

Stay SAFE. That's our motto. Leave luck for the lottery, and plan for effective fall protection. Often a safer workplace involves small common sense changes or investments that far outweigh the effects of a fall. Changes to a procedure, the addition of PPE or a safety gate or work platform--all can significantly improve safety. Learn how SafeRack can improve fall protection at your workplace.

SafeRack Helps Food Colouring Supplier Complete Safety Upgrade

SafeRack Helps Food Colouring Supplier Complete Safety Upgrade
- Canadian Process Equipment and Control News - February 2010

Mark Ballard, Safety Representative at D.D. Williamson’s Louisville plant, thought it would be pertinent to investigate better fall-protection measures in the plant’s tank-truck loading and unloading areas.  He initially considered a catwalk that used a fall-arrest system and harnesses, which proved to be an expensive option. Then he came across a catalog from SafeRack, LLC, of Sumter, SC, a leading provider of stronger, safer and easier-to-handle truck loading-rack and fall-protection equipment, and discovered the Mobile Access Unit (MAU-I).

Word-of-Mouth Helps Lafarge’s Nashville Cement Terminal Select SafeRack

Lafarge North America’s Nashville, TN, Cement Terminal recently upgraded its fall-protection and gangway equipment to a SafeRack system due to its durable construction and ease-of-use.

cement terminal fall protection

Facility upgrades to G4 Series fall protection based on recommendations of plant personnel

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Chem.Info Article on Fall Protection Safety

Chem.Info - Sept. 2008

Risky Business - Foregoing preventative safety measures can put your plant - and its inhabitants - at risk.

Fortify your fall-protection systems.

railcar fall protection article

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