Safety Standards for Mezzanines and Raised Platforms
In a warehouse environment, utilizing mezzanines or elevated platforms is a common practice. Growing up instead of out allows you to get the most out of your space. Unfortunately, while mezzanines increase warehouse space efficiency, they also increase the risk of injury to employees who work on or in the immediate area.
Safety regulations are in place to mitigate the inherent risks workers face in a warehouse or other industrial facility.
When discussing safety standards for mezzanines or raised platforms in a warehouse environment, the main issue is minimizing the risk of falls, which is the most common cause of serious work-related injuries and deaths. OSHA’s mezzanine safety requirements are defined under standard 1910, Subpart D – Walking-Working Surfaces. This section was recently revised and became effective January 17, 2017. See OSHA’s Fact Sheet for more details on this final rule.
Duty to Have Fall Protection
Under OSHA standard 1910.28, Duty to Have Fall Protection, “the employer must ensure that each employee on a walking-working surface with an unprotected side or edge that is 4 feet or more above a lower level shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.”
Each of these options will help protect employees from falling off the edge while working on the surface area of a mezzanine or raised platform.
Guardrail Fall Protection Criteria
OSHA standard 1910.29(b)(1) specifies that the top edge of a guardrail safety system is 42 inches (plus or minus 3 inches) above the floor. Other criteria under paragraph (b) include requirements that the guardrail is capable of withstanding a force of at least 200 pounds applied in a downward or outward direction, midrails (or equivalent intermediate members) may be needed, and the guardrail systems will be smooth-surfaced.
Handrails and gates at the mezzanine and elevated platform barrier edge, like Rite-Hite’s mezzanine safety gate solutions, the GateKeeper and the RacKeeper, satisfy OSHA’s guardrail fall protection criteria.
Falling Object Protection
OSHA standard 1910.28 also states that employees underneath the mezzanine or raised platform must be protected from falling objects.
Toeboards (a vertical barrier on the edge of a platform) can be used for overhead protection from falling objects. OSHA Standard 1910.29(k) states that “toeboards used for falling object protection have a vertical minimum height of 3.5 inches (9 cm) and are capable of withstanding a force of at least 50 pounds applied in any downward or outward direction at any point along the toeboard”. The GateKeeper features OSHA approved toeboards.
It is also worth mentioning that while OSHA standards are oftentimes the industry standard, ANSI and IBC standards along with local building codes should always be known and followed when your warehouse utilizes or is constructing mezzanines and/or raised platforms. The GateKeeper and the RacKeeper mezzanine safety gates meet applicable ANSI, and IBC standards, including the ANSI standard for elevated work platforms (MH28.3: 2009).
Failure to comply with appropriate standards can be grounds for fines. But at the end of the day it’s about more than just money – it’s about your company’s biggest asset, your people!