The Ins and Outs of Fall Protection for Food and Beverage Processing Plants

Or, give us a call: 1-888-936-0752

When we come home from work to enjoy a hot meal and a cold beverage, we expect our food and drink to be safe to consume. Regulations, inspections, and recalls by the Food & Drug Administration give us confidence that we are being looked after.

Maintenance employees at food and beverage processing plants should have the same confidence that their on-the-job safety is a priority. They work in challenging environments with large equipment inside the facility as well as outside, on the rooftop.

Local, state, and federal agencies—notably the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) on the national level—have many such standards for fall protection. Business owners and facility managers need to navigate the regulations and select the safety solutions that will protect their workers.

Fall protection for food and beverage plants

What are the risks and regulations?

A safety audit will examine a facility inside and out to determine where workers are at risk of a fall (or other hazards) and what should be done to meet regulatory standards. For example:

  • Do employees need to work at height or near open edges to access machinery?
  • Will there be workers on the rooftop to inspect, maintain, and repair heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), and other equipment?
  • How severe are the risks?
  • Can any of the hazards be eliminated, or if not, what can be done to mitigate the risk?

A safety audit consults OSHA standards for fall protection, and the results are used to develop and implement a fall protection plan. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provides comprehensive direction and resources to help companies with their plans and evaluation of safety systems and equipment.

Solutions on the inside.

Food and beverage processing plants often have large or extensive machinery and equipment, such as mixers, cookers, pasteurizers, conveyors, filter presses, tanks, crushers, sanitizers, and more that require frequent access for production, cleaning, inspections, and maintenance. Stairs and fixed ladders provide access to elevated work platforms and mezzanines to give workers access to machinery and an overhead equipment. At the highest level of these access points a self-closing gate is a simple solution to prevent accidental falls to lower levels. Engineered solutions include:

  1. Modular Work Platforms
    A work platform is engineered to conform to the needs for accessing specific machinery by height, platform dimensions, load capacities, shop services (e.g., electrical, water, air), and other factors. They are constructed of pipe-fitted frames for easy installation and feature anti-slip steps and platform floors.

    The modular configuration allows for modifications or reconfiguration if processing equipment is replaced, or other needs change. Aluminum or galvanized steel construction provides strength, durability, and corrosion resistance. Platforms can be static or fitted with heavy-duty locking casters for station-to-station mobility.
  2. Overhead Rigid Rail Systems
    An overhead rigid rail system is ideal where access from above is needed and working space is at a premium. It features rigid rails (supplied in 10-ft. segments) bracketed to the ceiling or beams. A fall arrest block attaches to a smooth-gliding traveler as part of a lifeline and harness system.

    The system is easy to install and maintain and can accommodate up to four workers depending on the application and setup. More importantly, for the safety of workers, it will arrest a fall in a short distance.

Solutions on the outside.

As a safety audit will reveal, the rooftop of a food and beverage plant presents a host of fall hazards. Fortunately, there are several safety solutions available to mitigate the risks:

  1. Guardrails for Unprotected Edges
    Modular permanent guardrail systems with galvanized steel guardrails and PVC bases adapt to virtually any roof configuration to provide OSHA-compliant fall protection. For temporary or infrequent work, mobile guardrail sets are available. Both types of systems are installed without penetrating the roof.
  1. Horizontal Lifelines for Fall Restraint and Fall Arrest
    Engineered horizontal lifeline systems provide continuous freedom of movement that meets OSHA, ANSI, and IBC standards. Featuring heavy-duty, stainless steel cable, they can accommodate up to three workers on a single span.
  2. Anchorage Systems for Lifelines
    Mobile, deadweight anchors are non-penetrating and provide versatile access throughout a rooftop with a pitch of up to five degrees. Rigid, tieback anchors at a single-point or multi-point system can be affixed in a variety of ways depending on the roof or building.
  3. Safe Roof Access
    Roof hatch railing kits are non-penetrating guardrail systems with a self-closing gate to protect workers from falling through the roof opening. They are available in configurations to meet all standard roof hatches.
Horizontal Lifelines

Take the next step for safety.

If your company produces food or beverage products and fall protection is your responsibility, contact Safeguard Industries. Our services include a discussion and evaluation of your needs and concerns about regulatory compliance, a site visit to conduct a safety audit, and then developing a plan of action. Our services can include as little or as much as you need, from design, engineering, and fabrication to installation, training, and other support.

Providing Fall Protection for International Brands