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Published on: June 11, 2024

A Smorgasbord of Safety in Food and Beverage Processing Plants

When you went to your first buffet, were you tall enough to reach—or even see—the array of food options? Was it a fundraiser with rubber chicken, roasted potatoes, salad, rolls, and a veggie, or a spread worthy of a royal wedding?

For almost every dish and drink served at an extravagant event, there is a distinct type of food and beverage processing plant. Depending on the ingredients used and products produced, a variety of machinery and equipment is used, but there are commonalities. 

Despite differences, the rule is large production equipment (e.g., mixers, cookers, pasteurizers, conveyors, filter presses, tanks, crushers, sanitizers). Employees must work at height to inspect, clean, and service the equipment. With in-plant floor space devoted mainly to inventory and production, the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning (HVAC), and other building services equipment are on the roof, another work-at-height challenge. 

When you were a kid at the buffet, an adult might have picked you up so you could see the buffet choices. Hopefully, the adult provided adequate fall protection and did not drop you to the floor. 

Food and beverage processing plants have many healthy choices for in-plant and rooftop fall protection to help workers perform their tasks safely and productively. 

In-plant safety solutions.

Inside the plant, various hazards necessitate robust fall protection measures to ensure worker safety in complex environments. 

  • GuardrailsOSHA-compliant guardrails and handrails delineate authorized pedestrian areas, restrict access to machinery, and provide fall protection for stairs, mezzanines, loading docks, and other areas. A pre-assembled railing kit often offers a quick, easy alternative in cases where continuous long run railing systems are not required.
  • Elevated Work PlatformsModular work platforms constructed of aluminum or galvanized steel frames and guardrails with anti-slip, non-bounce, self-draining treads elevate workers to the height needed to perform their tasks safely and with outstanding freedom of movement. Platforms can be static for permanent placement and frequent tasks, fitted with casters for mobility, and customized for adjustable height, shop services (e.g., air, water, electricity), or other features. 

  • Pallet & Mezzanine GatesPivot railing and gate systems protect workers on mezzanines, upper floors, and loading areas who are using forklifts to load and unload stock and inventory. 
  • Self-closing Gates – Self closing safety gates are ideal for controlling access into restricted areas, protecting any openings, ladder/stair access points, roof hatches, walkways, access and to industrial machinery where regular access for operation, maintenance and inspection is needed.

Rooftop safety solutions.

The rooftop presents several fall hazards that must be addressed to protect workers performing inspections, maintenance, and repairs to building services equipment.

  • Ladder SystemsFixed ladders to access the roof require safety enhancements, personal fall protection systems and self-closing gates. 
  • Roof Hatch Railing Kits  – Roof hatches are another common way to access the roof; however, workers should be protected from falling through the hatch by a roof hatch kit that includes guardrails and a self-closing gate. 

  • Roof Edge Railing SystemThe roof edge is the most obvious hazard on the rooftop and is best protected by a perimeter guardrail system. Built with strong, durable, corrosion-resistant aluminum or galvanized steel and PVC counterweight bases, the modular system can fit virtually any roof configuration and is installed without welding, drilling, or penetrating the roof membrane. 
  • Skylight Fall ProtectionOSHA considers a skylight a hole in the roof that requires fall protection. A skylight guardrail surrounds the skylight, roof light, or roof dome. Skylight screens cover the skylight with a galvanized or stainless steel mesh without blocking sunlight. 

  • Roof WalkwaysRooftop Walkways that feature anti-slip, non-bounce, self-draining treads…set on galvanized steel frames to help workers avoid slippery surfaces and protect the roof from foot traffic. They can be equipped with guardrails for added fall protection. 
  • Roof CrossoversRoof crossover platforms combine roof walkways (for steps and platform decks) with OSHA-compliant guardrails. They enable workers to step up and over obstacles such as pipes, conduits, ductwork, and cables or navigate a change in roof level. 

  • Horizontal LifelinesEngineered horizontal lifeline systems allow workers to move freely while being securely tethered. Featuring galvanized and stainless steel components, they can support up to three workers over a span of 39 feet. 
  • Anchorage SystemsTie-back anchors for individual use with a lifeline system are installed permanently into the roof with five mounting options and are available with three attachment choices. Freestanding mobile anchors feature deadweight anchors with a pedestal for lifelines. They are easy to assemble and disassemble for mobile or limited use. 

Which solution is best for you?

If you are responsible for the safety of your workers in a food or beverage processing plant, contact Flexible Lifeline Systems. We will discuss your needs and concerns about regulatory compliance, visit your site to conduct a safety audit and map out a plan. Our services can include as little or as much as you need, from design, engineering, and fabrication to installation, training, and other support.

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