Mezzanines are a great way to increase the storage capacity and amount of usable floor space of any office, warehouse, manufacturing or retail facility.
With these benefits come new risks, in the form of working at heights. Worker safety needs to be at the forefront of every business owners’ mind, especially when it comes to their physical working environment.
Why Think About Mezzanine Safety?
The UK government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published research pertaining to height-related accidents at work in Great Britain in 2018-19. The evidence showed that deaths caused by falling from a height at work have actually increased from the previous year, to 40 fatalities.
Estimates show that around 44,400 injuries at work occurred during the same period happened as a result of falling from a height. This works out to 121 every day.
The United States Department of Labor has published findings that reveal work-related fatal falls to a lower level actually increased by 26% between 2011 and 2016. In 2016 there were 697 fatal falls, and over the six-year period, there were a staggering 3,723 deaths.
The evidence demonstrates why it’s important to prioritize safety at work, especially when there are risks of falling – such as from a mezzanine. In addition to taking care of your employees, achieving safety will also help take care of your business.
Employees who suffer injuries at work will need to take time out of work to recover from their injuries. Depending on their role, it might be necessary to find cover for this work, which could then lead to extra costs.
It’s no secret that when injuries happen at work, employers are often liable. Today’s television and radio is saturated with ‘no-win-no-fee’ style adverts for lawyers ‘ specializing’ in workplace injuries, which means the likelihood of a lawsuit against you is fairly high.
Tips for Achieving a Safe Mezzanine
Work environments of all kinds that have a mezzanine need to adhere to safety precautions in order to protect their staff. Here are some considerations to make;
- Make sure there is sufficient edge protection on the mezzanine.
Handrails and kickboards should be installed on all outer edges of the mezzanine, as well as the stairs and walkways used to access it. Proper edge protection will lower the chances of human accidents which could result in a fall, as well as stop items from falling off the platform.
- Install quality pallet gates.
Any openings on the side of the mezzanine, such as for pallet and/or lift access, should be properly protected with adequate gates.
- Keep the mezzanine well-organized and clear of clutter.
All open spaces on the mezzanine where people could walk should be kept entirely clear of objects. Likewise, any boxes, equipment, or machinery should be made secure to avoid their being moved and potentially tripped on.
- Provide adequate lighting in the whole mezzanine area.
It’s important that the entire mezzanine space is well-lit so that anyone using it can easily see where they are walking and moving around. Dark spaces will increase the chance of people tripping and possibly even falling.
- Pay attention to the weight capacity of the structure.
At the time of the installation, those who have constructed the mezzanine will advise the maximum weight capacity of the platform. This information must be adhered to and considered when it comes to deciding on what machinery and/or equipment is stored on the mezzanine, and also how many people will be using it at any one time.
- Give your employees thorough, and regular safety training.
After you have carried out these actions and determined that the mezzanine is as safe as possible, it’s important to maintain this. To make sure the space remains safe, carry out regular checks to see if the above tips are being adhered to. Consider appointing health and safety champions to work through a checklist like this one:
- Are all the light bulbs working properly?
- Are the stairs and walkways clear of clutter?
- Is there sufficient edge protection on all the outer sides?
- Are pallet gates working and in good condition?
- Have all new staff members been given safety training?
- Have long-term employees been given safety training refreshers?
Aside from the duty of care to look after your employees, it’s important to look after your business by implementing adequate protection policies. Avoid workplace accidents, injuries, and fatalities by considering the various ways to protect your staff while they are working from the height of your mezzanine floor.
Kirstin Monk is a marketing manager at Hi-Level Mezzanines, a European mezzanine floor manufacturer.