High level safety barriers or pallet gates are commonly used in workplaces that require staff who are working at high levels above ground, however, many of these barriers and gates are not designed properly.
Anthony Wilkinson, Director at Sherwood Design and Engineering says there is a national safety code that such products should adhere to.
"Basically, we have a code [the Australian Code AS 1657-1992] that acts as a design guide and standard for safe handrails, pallet gates and barriers," Wilkinson said.
"If the design of these meets the code, then it meets necessary safety requirements. However, there are some companies out there who claim they meet these standards, but in fact don't."
Whilst there is no direct legal or compensation issues if designers fail to adhere to the safety code, there is nonetheless related safety risks and issues. Barriers, handrails and pallet gates that do not comply with the standard are in fact not as safe as they could be, and are essentially engaging in false advertising.
Wilkinson says to be sure your pallet gates and other structures do comply with safety codes and standards, you need to look for products that are designed by qualified engineers.
"Sherwood are design engineers, meaning we know how to create structures that adhere to safety codes. However, there are so-called pallet gates that are created by fabricators who have no engineering background," Wilkinson said.
For example, there are certain design elements in handrails that make it safe and robust. The improper size and placement of the steel members in the handrail can make it unstable - an critical safety factor in workplaces where staff operate at high level working grounds .
Sherwood Design and Engineering has been in this business for over 35 years and Wilkinson said that the product has proven to be an inherently simple to use. They also have a wide range of clients that have given them necessary experience in various industries.
"We have industrial architects and major racking companies as our clients. A lot of them have staff that work in high level loading points, so our client base extends to factories and warehouses," Wilkinson said.
Sherwood Design and Engineering's leading product is their pallet gate that comes as either a standard product, or can be tailor-made according to client needs.
This product is also a WorkCover recognised safety product which gives it a differentiating factor compared to other products in the market.
"Our designs are proprietary items and are designed to engineering specifications. The pallet gates in particular are designed and built to last a lifetime. The practical aspect is that it uses up minimal floor space and it is simple to use and operate," Wilkinson said.
The pallet gate is designed to give permanent and continuous protection to anyone working at a high level loading point and once installed, the barrier must be used by the operator to gain access to the load or goods and he is never without protection.
The Sherwood pallet gate affords protection for personnel working at levels above ground, when engaged in loading or unloading goods by any means, but in particular, by overhead crane or fork-lift.
Under present circumstances, it is necessary to remove a section of protective handrailing or caternary chains, to provide openings on high level platforms or scaffolds for the handling of goods and thus for some period of time, the high level platform is not guarded, and an operator may fall to the ground or the load may be inadvertantly dislodged and fall.