Advantages of Self-Closing Industrial Safety Gates vs. Other Solutions
Injuries from falls at the workplace are unfortunately all too common. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 240,000 nonfatal workplace injuries involving falls, slips, and trips in the US in 2019.
OSHA regulations require that fall protection be provided anywhere employees are working at or above elevations of four feet in most general industry workplaces, and responsible employers make it a top priority to minimize falling risks throughout their facilities. Some equipment like harnesses and nets reduce the chance of injury when someone falls, while fall protection systems like industrial safety gates and railings work by preventing the fall from occurring in the first place.
There are pros and cons to many fall protection solutions, and many rely on personnel properly using them in order to be effective. Harnesses must be properly worn and adjusted, for example, and safety gates must be properly closed when not in use.
Self-Closing Gates: The Ideal Solution
Clearly, preventing falls before they happen is the most desirable approach. That’s why installing gates that keep employees from accidentally entering areas of high fall risk are so important. But at some worksites, workers may walk through these gate hundreds of times in a day as they perform their tasks. Asking them to remember to constantly be aware of closing the gate each time is unrealistic and creates the opportunity for error and accidents. Having the gate close automatically is a much better option and is much safer, which is what makes these gates the industry standard.
Self-closing gates are designed to automatically close every single time they are opened. With a self-closing gate, dangerous areas can still be blocked off, keeping workers protected without placing the burden on workers to close the gate. Oftentimes, workers are in a rush or they might be carrying heavy objects. For these types of situations and for practically every other situation, a self-closing gate is the safest and most efficient solution.
Advantages Over Other Forms of Fall Protection
Self-closing industrial safety gates are not just a better option than outdated, manual-close swing gates. In many circumstances, they are also a better option than harnesses, safety nets, lanyards, etc. By the time any of these devices provide fall protection, the fall is already in progress. As such, the risk of injury is higher, and the frequency with which these types of equipment need to be inspected, adjusted, and replaced is much higher. OSHA regulations require that harnesses and lanyards be inspected before and after each use, and safety nets must be installed and tested to meet very rigorous specifications.
For indoor fall protection (areas inside industrial facilities such as stairways, elevated walkways, and breaks in guardrails), self-closing gates combined with safety railings provide a simple, highly effective foundation for fall protection.
Another benefit of industrial safety gates that self-close is that they provide greater access control than their alternatives. Access control is extremely important for safety and indoor fall protection. Many accidents happen when workers enter a dangerous area that they are not supposed to be in because a gate was left open or because access was not restricted with a self-closing industrial safety gate. OSHA actually requires self-closing safety gates in many circumstances because it is aware of how beneficial these gates are for safety and how dangerous it can be not to have them in certain areas. The bottom line is that if you don’t want workers accidentally gaining access to areas of a worksite where they shouldn’t be and thus increasing their risk of a fall, you should install gates that self-close.
The Critical Importance of Preparing in Advance
Many companies neglect to optimize the safety of their workspace. Whether this is due to lack of due diligence or attempts to save time or expense, it’s an unsustainable and unacceptable approach. If even one employee experiences a serious injury as the result of a workplace fall, it is a devastating tragedy (as well as a potentially huge monetary liability). Therefore, it’s crucial to immediately and constantly secure your industrial worksite with proper protection, including industrial safety gates.
Where Can Self-Closing Safety Gates Be Installed?
There are many different locations where self-closing safety gates can and should be installed to help with indoor fall protection and access control.
- Loading Docks: The working edges of these frequently busy areas can be easily accessible and well-secured with self-closing vertical-lift dock gates.
- Ladderways: Access to both the top and bottom of ladders needs to be controlled to minimize fall risks, and a self-closing gate meets OSHA requirements for this application.
- Mezzanines: OSHA requires these elevated platforms to have thorough fall protection, and pivoting dual mezzanine gates use a counterbalanced design to ensure one gate is always protecting the edge.
- Stairs: The most common way of getting from one level of a facility to another is also the most frequent site of workplace fall injuries. A self-closing gate at points of stair access helps prevent these accidents.
- Around Dangerous Machinery: Industrial machinery presents many risks to employees, from intense heat to electric shock and toxic chemicals. Help prevent accidental contact with these hazards with a self-closing safety gate.
Which Gates to Choose?
OSHA regulations do not provide recommendations for specific brands or models of gates. However, OSHA does set many specifications for strength, placement, measurements, and functionality of the gates in your facility.
An experienced and reliable partner will help your company to meet all these requirements and to provide your employees and your facility with optimum fall protection. Fabenco by Tractel is a leader in the industrial fall protection industry, with a wide range of self-closing gate options and other safety products that fully comply with all OSHA regulations. Contact us today to discuss your fall protection needs.