When Repairing Racking Systems, Look at the Big Picture

In a recent YouTube video that has gone viral in the past few weeks, a forklift operator nicks the corner of a warehouse shelf only to have the entire racking system completely collapse all around him.

While this video was popular, it illustrates the fact that most warehouse racking systems are integrated and that a small problem with one component can have profound implications on all of the rest. That’s why it’s so important when repairing any part of a warehouse shelving system that you look at the big picture, rather than just the component in front of you.

One Piece of a Larger System

Most racking systems have a lot of separate parts that fit together to create a unified whole. These can include columns, base plates and anchors, frames bracing, row spacers, beams, beam to column connectors with locking mechanisms, and accessories such as wire decks and cross bars.

Each individual piece is connected to all the others. So when there is a failure in one, it can have dire consequences for all. That’s why it’s so important to look at the big picture when doing inspections of warehouse racking systems and when making repairs of individual pieces.

It’s important to remember that a repair isn’t just a simple fix. It could affect the engineering of the entire system. Experienced rack maintenance workers need to be one part repairman and one part systems engineer.

How to See the Big Picture

While the size and complexity of the racking system can vary from business to business, the bottom line essentials remain the same. Seeing the racking system as a whole requires understanding how each piece is integrated into the others.

A good place to start is by looking at the layout and elevation of the rack. An original document may have been created when the rack was built. If not, consider creating one on your own. Begin by reviewing any building permits that were originally issued when the racks were constructed. These probably will include loads and profiles, essential information for understanding how your racking system works.

If there is damage to the racking system, the first thing to do is to figure out what pieces need to be replaced or repaired. The next is to verify that the actual loads on the rack are the same as what the rack was designed to carry. Finally, look to see if the current design configuration follows the codes when the rack was originally built.

Understanding how an integrated racking system works could save your business from being featured on a future viral YouTube video.

 

Benefits of Manually Operated Lifts

Running a warehouse, distribution center, dock, or any other type of materials handling business is practically impossible without the right equipment. Lifting and moving boxes, pallets, and equipment manually isn’t just unsafe, it’s also inefficient.

But when a business is just starting out, it’s not always possible to spend a fortune on powered equipment like forklifts and pallet jacks. Fortunately, there’s an affordable option that will still get the job done.

Manually Operated Lifts

As the name implies, manually operated lifts are powered by human muscle. Many feature foot activation that makes it easy to lift even the heaviest loads quickly but safely.

Yet manually operated lifts still offer the power of hydraulics for lifting heavy materials like cases of products or palletized boxes. Many work using the same principles as an automobile jack, using the force of muscle to lift materials incrementally — with a little help from interior hydraulics.

Unlike forklifts or power jacks, there are zero fuel costs for manually operated lifts. So you don’t have to worry about storing flammable gas tanks or taking your primary materials handling equipment out of service for recharging. With manually operated lifts, you are always ready to go.

For small businesses that are just starting out, manually operated lifts can be the best solution to their material handling requirements. They often cost a fraction of what businesses would spend on forklift or power jacks. And they are often affordable enough that they can be bought outright rather than entering into a long-term lease agreement.

Mobility and Productivity

Besides their affordable price tag, another benefit of a manually operated lift is its versatility. Many are narrow enough to fit through standard door frames. So they are ideal for working in smaller work areas.

They also are mobile enough to be used in crowded work areas. And because they don’t take up a lot of storage space, there is more room for warehousing products and materials.

Manually operated lifts come in a variety of sizes and styles so you can choose the right one for your specific needs. Even with the smallest pre-opening budget, many businesses can afford to purchase one or more of these helpful, efficient, and productive materials handlers that can instantly improve your operations.

As your business grows, your materials handling equipment can grow with it. In the meantime, small businesses on a budget can still be versatile and mobile with manually operated lifts.

 

 

Busy Holiday Season Presents Unique Dangers

holiday decorations

holiday rewards and recogitionFor many businesses, the holiday season is by far the busiest time of year. Most retailers prepare for holiday shopping by boosting their inventory levels, hiring and training seasonal staff, and even reconfiguring their showrooms to accommodate larger crowds.

But businesses should also get ready for the holidays by anticipating potential hazards and taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of their property, their customers, and their employees.

Holidays Affect Many Businesses

The holidays aren’t just busy for retailers. They also are busy for the warehouses and distribution centers that provide the products sold at their businesses. And they are busy for the manufacturers who make those products in the first place.

One of the biggest dangers for all kinds of businesses is the new employees that are hired to help with the holiday rush. In many instances, these employees aren’t experienced, aren’t provided the same training as year-round employees, and aren’t always as focused on the overall success of the organization.

As a result, they often require more supervision, more instruction, and more oversight to ensure they stay focused on the task at hand. They also need to be kept clear of potential dangers, especially fast-moving forklifts.

Dealing with Holiday Pressures

Another potential danger is the increased demand during the holiday shopping season. From manufacturers to wholesalers to retailers to delivery personnel, there is a lot of pressure to get products into the hands of consumers faster. This is especially true today when online shopping has added an expectation of next-day or even same-day delivery to the equation.

While it’s not always possible to slow down during the busy holiday season, businesses can take steps to ensure that everybody within their organization remains focused on safety first. Efficiency and productivity are important, but they fade in comparison to the health and safety of your employees.

Be sure to reinforce workplace safety rules, especially with temporary employees who may not be familiar with the way things are done within your business. Make sure supervisors and managers are vigilant in observing production and intervening immediately when they see somebody taking a shortcut or putting themselves or others in danger.

The holidays are the busiest time of the year. But they also can be the most dangerous. By staying on point and remaining focused on safety while not compromising on efficiency, you can ensure a happy and safe holiday season for everybody.

 

 

5 Substances to Store in Your Safety Cabinet

Flammables cabinets save live. They prevent the accidental ignition of flammable substances and prevent a fire from spreading should they occur.

If you use flammable materials in your workplace and need someplace safe and secure to store them, consider using a flammables cabinet. They offer a convenient, affordable way to instantly increase workplace safety.

If you aren’t sure if you need a flammables cabinet, consider these five common workplace substances that should always be stored securely in a fireproof cabinet.

Flammable and Combustible Liquids

When they reach a specific temperature, flammable and combustible liquids will ignite. That temperature is going to depend on the liquid, but some flammable liquids have flashpoints as low as 100 degrees F. So if your workplace reaches summertime temperatures that exceed this, you probably need a flammable cabinet.

Flammable Gases

When many flammable gases are exposed to an oxidant, including air, they can begin to burn. Storing flammable gases in sealed containers is essential. But it’s also important to protect the surrounding environment by storing these gas containers inside a flammables cabinet.

Flammable gases include propane, acetylene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, natural gas, and methane, all of which are commonly used in many industries.

Explosive Chemicals

Certain chemicals will explode when activated by an electric shock, excessive heat, or even friction. Some chemicals, known as touch sensitive chemicals, will even ignite if brushed up against a container. So storing these types of highly sensitive chemicals safely is critical.

Storing explosive chemicals in a flammables cabinet can reduce the risk of explosion or ignition. So can using these chemicals promptly because many will become more volatile as they degrade over time.

Explosive chemicals include things like nitoso, haloamine, oxonides, azides, and acetylides.

Oxidizing Chemicals

Chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, concentrated nitric acid, and even bleach can spontaneously evolve oxygen at room temperature or if they are heated slightly. Pure oxygen released into an environment can spark a fire.

Oxidizing chemicals like these should always be stored in a secure flammables cabinet to avoid potential harm to people or damage to property.

Solids

Certain types of common solids pose a serious fire risk. These include things like old film, photographic negative plates made from cellulose nitrate, and picrate salt, a solid commonly used in dye manufacturing.

If solids like these catch fire, they can be difficult to put out. That’s why they should be stored in flammables cabinets that can control their exposure to things like heat, shock, and friction.

If you use flammables in your workplace, store them safely in flammables cabinets.

Use the Right Equipment to Store Gas Cylinders Safely

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

With all the advances in technology, one thing hasn’t changed much in the past several decades: How compressed gas is stored and shipped.

Businesses of all types use old-fashioned gas cylinders. And they are still as heavy, bulky, and difficult to handle as ever. Yet handling gas cylinders safely is still an essential part of workplace safety.

Dangers of Gas Cylinders

Gas cylinders are dangerous because they are heavy. For example, a standard cylinder of oxygen contains about 20 lbs. of gas inside. But the cylinder itself weighs about 130 lbs. That’s a combined weight of 150 lbs.

If such a heavy cylinder were to tip over onto a person or drop onto somebody’s foot, it would almost certainly result in a workplace injury.

Yet the weight of the gas cylinder isn’t even the biggest problem. The real danger is the compressed gas inside the cylinder. Should the gas cylinder fall over and crack or spring a leak, it can suddenly become a high-speed projectile weighing 150 lbs or more that can blast through anything that gets in its way, including walls, materials, and even people.

Storing Compressed Gas Cylinders

When stored properly, gas cylinders are relatively safe to use. As long as they are handled with respect and care, they usually aren’t dangerous.

Always store cylinders upright, not laying on their side. Not only are they easier to handle, but there is less risk of damaging them. Also, it’s harder for them to roll away.

While storing compressed gas, make sure the valves are completely closed and any protective devices like tags or caps are secured.

Where to Store Compressed Gas

Secure cylinders in an approved cylinder storage unit that includes a chain or strap that prevents them from tipping over. The storage unit should be located in an area far away from vehicle traffic, excessive heat, or electrical circuits.

Avoid storing cylinders in a closet or locker. If the valves aren’t shut all the way or there is a leak, it could create a buildup of dangerous gas. Instead, the storage unit needs to be located in a dry, well-ventilated place that is at least 20 feet away from any combustible materials.

Hang proper signage in areas where compressed gas is stored to alert people of the potential dangers.

Finally, keep empty cylinders separated from full ones to avoid confusion.

Compressed gas is stored pretty much the same way as it has been for the past century. Following these safety procedures will allow the safe use of gas in your workplace for many decades to come.

Trench Fatalities on the Rise

Trench boxes help protect workers from cave-ins (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Working in trenches and excavations has always been dangerous, but today it is riskier than ever.

According to a recent report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of workers killed in trench-related accidents nearly doubled in 2016 over the average of the previous five years. Part of that undoubtedly has to do with the increased number of infrastructure improvement projects currently underway.

More Construction Projects

The Great Recession of 2008-2009 put a slowdown on a lot of public improvement projects. With US banking in disarray and the economy sputtering, governments at every level were reluctant to issue bonds to fund infrastructure projects like bridge repair, water and sewer line replacement, and highway and bridge upgrades.

But now that the economy has bounced back and then some, it seems like public works projects are making up for lost time. It seemed like motorists are delayed by construction projects at practically every turn this summer.

Because there have been so many more big public construction projects in recent years, it’s just math that more workers would be injured or killed in accidents. Still, the rise in trench-related accidents has caught the attention of the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And now the federal safety watchdog is taking aim at reducing the amount of trench-related deaths.

Preventing Cave-Ins

Reducing trenching and excavation hazards has been named OSHA’s Priority Goal. That means resources and attention will be devoted to moving the needle to reduce trench deaths. A public awareness campaign also has been launched to promote ways to reduce the risk of workplace cave-ins.

OSHA identified three ways to keep cave-in accidents from happening:

  1. Slop or bench trench walls
  2. Shore trench walls with supports
  3. Shielf trench walls with trench boxes

These safety measures can strengthen trench walls and help protect workers.

Common Trench Hazards

Project managers also need to ensure that workers can enter and exit trenches safely, as well as keeping materials away from the edges of a trench — especially heavy equipment that could fall in and injure or kill a worker inside.

Another common hazard when working with trenches is standing water. When rainwater or runoff pools in the bottom of a trench, it can weaken the walls. It also creates a potential electrocution hazard.

Atmospheric hazards like lightning or flash floors also put trench workers at risk.

Some predict the number of infrastructure improvements will continue to rise with the economy. By focusing on trench safety, OSHA hopes to reverse the number of trench fatalities and help keep workers safe.

Use Trusted Sources When Searching Online

Bahrns Equipment

If you are like most people, you probably use the Internet to find the products and service you need more often than not. Thanks to the Digital Revolution, whether you use a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, just about anything you want or need is only a few taps away.

Yet it is still relatively early in this new way of conducting business. All the bugs haven’t been worked out yet. And there’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of oversight and regulation — especially because online commerce allows customers and vendors to easily cross international boundaries.

As a result, there are still a lot of scammers, spammers, and dishonest players. The Wild West environment that exists as e-commerce figures itself out can lead to a lot of frustration. That’s why when it comes to the materials handling products you need, you should always rely on trusted sources such as Bahrns.com.

Caveat Emptor

The phrase, “caveat emptor” — Latin for “let the buyer beware” — is more relevant today than at any other time in business history. When you type a keyword describing the product or service you are looking for s into Google, Yahoo, or another search engine, you instantaneously get hundreds, thousands, or even millions of results.

But how can you tell which are trustworthy and which are not? Google is simply an algorithm, not a gatekeeper. While it may work toward protecting its users against dishonesty, it deals with literally billions of searches a day. So it’s hard for Google to provide security on every single one of them.

Use Trustworthy, Reliable Businesses

You probably have heard horror stories about people buying something online only to discover that the seller used a “bait and switch” scam, that the product wasn’t delivered at all, or that returning the product was next to impossible.

That’s why it’s so important to do business online only with trusted, reliable companies. Bahrns has been providing its customers with the finest materials products and equipment since before the Internet was even invented. We have built our reputation one customer interaction at a time, whether it is in person, over the phone, or online.

There’s still a lot of details to work out before e-commerce can be trusted to provide 100 percent of the products and services you want. Until then, you can rely on Bahrns.com to offer you the top-quality materials handling products you want with the outstanding personalized customer service you expect.

Thinking Outside the Box

Photo by Ndungukamau via Wikimedia Commons

Boxes have always been a primary to any successful business. Whenever you have to move anything from one place to another and you want it to arrive in the same condition that it was sent, a box usually offers the ideal solution.

The problem is that today there aren’t just one or two kinds of boxes. There are literally hundreds of box types that can be used for transporting products or parts. And the difference isn’t just size. It’s always material type, shape, and more.

Cardboard Boxes

When most people think of boxes, they usually think of the ordinary brown cardboard box. And the cardboard box is probably still the most common type of box used by businesses. Companies that delivery a lot of different kinds of materials lots of places — such as Amazon, UPS, or DHL, for example — go through literally millions of cardboard boxes per month.

Cardboard has the advantage of being recyclable, which is of primary importance to a lot of business and customers. But generally, cardboard boxes can only be used once before they have to be remade as a brand new box. This recycling process takes a lot of steps — from the baler to the recycler to the cardboard box plant — that can take a long time before the box is reintroduced into the supply chain. And each step requires more energy, which undercuts the original purpose of recycling.

Other Types of Boxes

As a result, many businesses today are using sturdier more rigid boxes that can be used again and again without having to be put into the recycling process. Boxes made of hard plastic can be used to ship materials in all directions in the supply chain, from the manufacturer to the distributor, from the distributor to the retailer, and from the retailer back to the manufacturer.

They also are often stackable and lightweight, reducing shipping costs and saving costly truck space.

Wooden boxes are another option for some types of businesses. While wood is more costly than cardboard or plastic, it has absorbing properties that make it ideal for transporting delicate and fragile materials, such as glass bottles.

Wood is also tough. It can take a beating and still be used multiple times as it passes through the supply chain.

Boxes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They are an effective and important tool in transporting materials. But the types of boxes used by businesses is always evolving.

 

3 Types of Safety Products You Didn’t Know You Needed

Safety ProductsWhen it comes to workplace safety, there’s practically no such thing as too much safety equipment. Anything you can add to your workplace that will reduce the risk of injury to workers or damage to property or products is at least worth considering.

Personal protective equipment is one of the most popular options for improving workplace safety and reducing risks. Things like protective goggles, noise-reducing headphones, anti-fall harnesses, and even steel-toed boots can make workers safer as they go about their jobs.

But environmental safety equipment should also be considered. Rather than things workers can wear to be safer, environmental safety equipment includes things you can add to your workplace to prevent accidents and reduce risks. Here are five examples.

Safety Products — Self-Closing Faucets

Equipment that controls or limits the flow of materials, such as self-closing faucets, create an added level of safety that can save lives while protecting property, equipment, and products.  As the name implies, self-closing faucets will shut themselves off unless they are physically held open by hand.

This is useful when working with potentially harmful drum liquids, such as caustic substances, fuel, liquids that are high in acidity, and other dangerous materials. Self-closing faucets offer more control over the flow of such substances, improving the safety of workers and the workplace.

Safety Products — Plunger Cans

In many workplaces, spills are a common occurrence. Runoff from manufacturing processes, cleaning of materials or products, and even routine maintenance can require workers to wet a sponge or towel and wipe up spills almost constantly. In environments like these, plunger cans can be a godsend.

Plunger cans contain a cleaning liquid, such as water or a mild astringent. On top, they feature a pan attached to a spring and plunger. All the worker has to do is place their rag on the pan and push down and the plunger can will automatically moisten it for easy and quick cleanup. Whatever remaining liquid is in the pan will simply drain back into the can for next time.

Safety Products — Safety Cabinets

Oftentimes, where potentially dangerous materials are stored is just as important as how they are handled. Safety cabinets are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to store everything from gas cans to propane tanks to high explosives, depending on your needs.

Safety cabinets let you store materials safely and securely out of the way, reducing the risk of rupture or accidental spills.

Browse the safety equipment page on the Bahrns.com website to discover other types of helpful, secure safety equipment that can help protect your people and workplace.

Bulb Siphon Pumps Offer Convenience, Safety

Bulb Pump Siphon

Anyone who has ever had to siphon gas out of a car or truck can testify to the value of having a bulb siphon pump. The alternative — using your mouth and lungs to get enough suction to start the gas moving through the siphon hose — is not only distasteful, it can also be dangerous.

Bulb siphon pumps are the ideal way to initiate any type of siphoning procedure, whether it’s getting fuel out of a gas tank, draining liquid chemicals from a barrel, or any other type of liquid transfer. They are safe, effective, and convenient tools to have around any shop or warehouse.

With a bulb siphon, the hand-pumped bulb begins the process of pulling the liquid into the hose so that it can travel up the side of the container before being pulled down into the spillway, whether it’s into a sewer, a bucket, or some other landing place. In other words, the bulb does the work of your mouth and lungs, preventing the liquid from accidentally getting into your mouth.

While a little gasoline probably won’t hurt you, it’s certainly not going to taste very good. But trying the traditional method of siphoning a more caustic liquid such as a high acid or dangerous chemical just isn’t practical.

How Siphon Pumps Work

Interestingly, not all scientists agree on how liquid can be forced to flow uphill by means of a siphon. There are two theories about how it works.

The first is based on hydrodynamics, or the idea that water and other liquids will always seek its own level. Once the liquid has been pulled up and over the side of the tank, barrel, or another container via suction, gravity will pull the liquid down the hose where there is reduced pressure.

Atmospheric pressure pushes the liquid from the upper container into the reduced pressure at the top of the siphon in the same way a straw will pull soda up into your mouth. Then it flows downhill naturally.

The Problem with Siphon Physics

But this theory is undermined by the fact that siphons will work in a vacuum, where there is no atmospheric pressure. They also work at heights higher than the barometric height of the liquid.

Which brings us to the second theory, called cohesion theory, which says the liquid is pulled over the siphon the same way a chain model works. In a chain model, the lower section is heavier than the top section, so it pulls the top section down.

Which theory is correct? Modern science can’t agree. But one that everybody can agree on is that just about every workplace needs to have a bulb siphon pump for when it’s needed.