Improve Safety with these Barrier Safety Tips
There are many ways to help keep employees safe while working within a facility. Sometimes it is best to provide them protective equipment to help limit exposure to hazards, for example. Other times you can help by training people to avoid specific dangers within the facility. While these are both great options, sometimes the best way to improve safety is to physically prevent access to the hazardous area.
This practice is known as barrier safety, which involves putting up physical barriers that will prevent people or vehicles from going to a specific area. Most people are familiar with this type of safety from driving on the road and seeing the metal barriers on bridges and other areas. Using this type of safety within a facility is a great way to improve safety, as long as it is done properly.
1. Types of Barrier Safety
There are many different types of barriers that can be used within your facility to improve overall safety. Understanding all your options is a great way to ensure you are able to choose the right type of barrier for a given situation. The following are some common types of barriers that can be used:
- Fencing – Putting up fencing is a great way to limit access. You can use chain link fencing so that the other side is visible, but people won’t accidently go into a restricted area. Other types of fencing can be useful too.
- Hand Railings – Putting up railings along edges is very common in many facilities. These railings can provide not only a physical barrier, but also a visible warning that you are approaching a fall hazard.
- Guard Rails – Putting up guard rails is a great way to prevent not only people from accessing an area, but also vehicles like high-lows or forklifts.
- Kick Boards – Kick boards are located low to the ground and can be an effective way to prevent vehicles from traveling in an area, or make it difficult to roll things like a dolly in. It will also provide a barrier for people so they are aware that they are entering a hazardous area.
- Windows – Putting up windows can be a great type of barrier in many cases. When using this option, however, you need to make sure that it the presence of the window is clear so people don’t bump into it. Keeping the window clean enough to see through is another important requirement.
There are, of course, other types of barriers available as well. Looking through all your different options will help you to learn which types of barriers will be best for which areas in your facility. Take your time to really look at all the different options so you can be sure to make the right choice. In most cases, barriers are permanently installed so you don’t want to regret your choice down the road.
2. Potential Dangers of Barriers
Safety barriers can be a great way to limit access to specific areas; however, they can come with certain risks that you need to be aware of. Whenever thinking about barrier safety of any type, you should go over the following potential risks and see if they are present. If so, you must take steps to mitigate the added danger:
- Blocking Exits – You never want to put up a barrier that will make it difficult or impossible to access an exit. This is especially true for emergency exits. If you do need to limit access to an area where an exit exists, make sure that during an emergency people can escape easily.
- Blocking Safety Signs – Whenever you put up a barrier of any type, you need to make sure that it doesn’t restrict the visibility of safety signs or other important things. If you are putting up a fence, for example, you need to either ensure the safety signs on the other side are still visible, or add an additional sign on the fence itself.
- Trip Hazards – Some barriers are fairly low to the ground, which can cause a tripping hazard. While these are great options for blocking vehicles, they do present difficulties for people walking in the area.
- Pinch Points – Barriers add new places where people could get caught if a vehicle or other type of machine traps them in. These are known as pinch points, and the risk of them must be reduced as much as possible as they can be very deadly.
- Blind Spots – Whenever putting up a barrier you are creating additional visual obstructions, which could cause blind spots for those walking or driving in the area. Taking precautions to limit blind spots, or develop a procedure to reduce the danger is very important.
Taking the time to look for any potential hazards caused by the barriers is going to help you to ensure the area is as safe as possible.
3. Information about Barriers
Another potential risk associated with using barriers to improve safety is that people may not know enough about the barrier to use it properly. For example, if you put up a safety gate to keep people out, they may think it is strong enough to lean on or apply pressure to. If the gate is not properly anchored, this could create a serious danger.
This is why it is important to let everyone know about the barriers, and how they should be used. This can be done with a simple training class or even by putting up safety signs on the barrier itself.
Providing a way for people to easily see things like how much weight a barrier can hold, the location of mid and low rails (kick boards) is also very important. The more information people can gather at a glance, the safer the barrier will be.
4. Barrier Visibility
Taking steps to ensure people know where the barrier is located is another important safety tip. In many cases, people will be walking or driving through the area, and not be able to easily see the barrier, which can cause some serious hazards. Putting up barricade safety tape is a great way to draw the attention of people in the area.
This barrier safety tape can be put directly on the barrier itself to make it more visible, or more often, you can put it on the floor leading up to the barrier. This is a great way to get the attention of people in the area so that they can take the proper precautions to avoid running into the barrier or tripping over it.
5. Barrier Safety Benefits
While much of what was discussed here talks about some of the potential hazards of using barriers in a facility, they are actually an excellent option in many cases. As long as you take the potential hazards seriously, and take steps to minimize these risks, you will find that the benefits far outweigh the problems.
This is especially true when you consider the fact that barriers are typically used to limit access to some of the most dangerous areas of a facility. For example, many companies use barriers along high ledges, which people could otherwise fall off of. With proper barrier safety, you will be able to help keep everyone safe throughout your facility.
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