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Fall Protection for Warehousing & Distribution Center Applications

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Increasing the quantity of goods moving through your organization’s warehousing and distribution centers–and the speed with which these items move through your supply chain–is vital to improving the bottom line. That said, from a safety perspective, ramped up activity in your distribution centers also increases your organization’s exposure to potential losses.  If you ask a seasoned warehousing EHS professional for a list of the most costly potential hazards their employees face, chances are good forklift accidents will top the list. The OSHA statistics bear out this claim; warehouses and distribution centers report 100 fork-truck related fatalities and 95,000 lift truck injuries each year.  What these same safety professionals tend to overlook is the potential lost time injuries and fatalities associated with fall hazards.

Most distribution center and warehouse fall hazards take three main forms:

  • Personnel walking on elevated conveyor surfaces to dislodge jams
  • Maintenance activity on the motors that pull the conveyors
  • Sorting and picking activities on elevated racks and mezzanines



The OSHA compliant stair system shown above provides safe access to the elevated picking and sorting area in this facility, but what happens when the employee steps steps foot in the mezzanine area?


Ignoring visual warning lines can expose your employees to significant fall hazards


Traffic cones used as visual warning lines

In the two mezzanine area photos above, you’ll notice use of a red warning line and cones to mark the end of the safe working zone.  The problem with visual warning lines is that there is nothing to stop a worker from stepping into the unsafe work area.  In many instances, a worker will mistakenly assume they are safe if they only momentarily step beyond the warning line.  Tripping, or losing balance when coming into contact with boxes moving along the floor mounted rollers can lead to a fall.

This application is ideally suited for a fall restraint or travel restraint system that will not allow the worker to get close enough to the edge of the mezzanine area to experience a fall.    In this case, we’ll be installing a floor-mounted rigid rail system with shuttles beneath the conveyor line.  By connecting a limiting lanyard to the shuttle, and then the making a connection between the lanyard and worker’s body harness, the tether style system limit the employee’s ability to travel too close to the leading edge of the mezzanine. Installation of an overhead fall restraint system will also protect workers charged with climbing on top of the conveyors to dislodge jammed boxes and servicing the motors that drive the belts.


The fall hazards in your warehouse or distribution center may not be as readily apparent to the untrained eye, but they are present—and they pose a threat to the safety of your employees and financial well-being of your organization.  Put our years of experience identifying and remediating fall hazards in facilities just like yours to work for you.  To learn more about fall protection, discuss an application, or request a site visit, contact the safety experts at Diversified Fall Protection for further assistance.


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Did You Know?

That any fall protection system must be engineered for two times the applied load in the event of a fall?