Putting Accident Intervention Systems into Action

A sporting goods retailer's proactive approach will reduce accidents and downtime in its new $45 million distribution center.

ACCIDENT Intervention Systems, as the term pertains to safety in industrial, manufacturing, and distribution facilities, is defined as: A systems approach to in-plant safety, where the three areas of Risk Management--People Protection, Property Protection and Code Compliance--are assessed and proper procedure is taken to neutralize workplace hazards and improve code compliance.

In today's ever-changing safety environment, using a well-developed plan will put you a step ahead of the game when it comes to reducing accidents, downtime, and improving code compliance in your facility. As a large national retailer found out, it was crucial to opening the doors of its brand-new distribution center.

Expanding Distribution
When one of the largest and fastest-growing sporting goods retailers in the country decided to build a new state-of-the-art distribution facility on the East Coast, protecting their employees and $45 million investment was essential. However, protecting their multimillion-dollar facility was only part of the equation.

Before a Certificate of Occupancy could be obtained, the company had three weeks to meet safety requirements set forth by the state, namely protecting offices located within the plant.After the last piece of equipment was installed, the company reviewed several options. Management ultimately chose their mezzanine vendor to manage the safety installation. Two determining factors made the decision an easy one. First, the mezzanine vendor also manufactured a line of industrial safety products and had a comprehensive risk management evaluation program in place. Second, the retailer's pallet rack vendor had been proactive in protecting the extensive rack system and already had installed $40,000 of guardrail.

People and Property Protection
The first step was to complete a thorough analysis of the facility and determine where barrier protection was needed. Using the principles of AIS (Accident Intervention Systems), the three areas of risk management were assessed and a list of target areas was created.

The first order of business was addressing the in-plant offices. Not only was physical damage to the offices a concern, the vicinity surrounding them had high volumes of pedestrian traffic. Deciding on a two-rail guardrail was a natural choice because it provided both a physical barrier and visual reminder. In addition to the office area, handrail was installed at exit doors to segregate forklift/pedestrian aisles.

The next area of concern was the extensive conveyor system. Vital to maintaining the flow of product as it was, protecting the system from impact was a high priority. Once again, guardrail was determined to be the best solution, and nearly 400 feet of double high rail was installed.

Guardrail also was chosen to protect multiple compressors. Bollards were installed around sprinkler lines and stairs. To protect building support columns, which are especially susceptible to impact, column guards were used to alert forklift operators to their location.

Code Compliance
During the safety assessment, forklift battery charging stations and electrical boxes were identified as high-risk areas. Prone to impact, these were given special priority because protection is mandated by OSHA's codes. Because of its versatility, guardrail was again used around the charging stations and electrical boxes, protecting the equipment and ensuring OSHA compliance.

Return on a $90,000 Investment
While most companies will agree that safety measures should be incorporated in their business practices, many are unsure where to start or what is actually required. This East Coast distribution center is a good example of how one company realized the benefits of using a risk management approach in its facility.

Although the $90,000 the retailer spent in safety products may seem to be a hefty sum, management's investment is certain to pay off in the long run by reducing injuries, downtime, and OSHA fines.

This article originally appeared in the December 2003 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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