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Safety Guards And Platform Lifts

3 large platform lifts with large custom fabricated by JW Portable Welding large safety guards on left and on right side of each lift. London, Ontario, 2022

Large platform lifts require large safety guards. These safety guards not only have to provide sufficient protection to people using them but also should be removable to allow access to the lifts. Moreover, large platform lifts must meet OHSA requirements in Ontario as to their operation.

JW Portable Welding & Repairs have installed these large, 9.5 feet tall and 11.5 feet long, safety guards during the normal operation of this storage facility located in London, Ontario. We have quickly realized that fabricating and then installing these guards will not be an easy task due to their size, closeness to the operational lift and required sturdiness. Most importantly, as required by the client, we had to make them removable for side access to these large and old platform lifts.

These old and large platform lifts also required some work. They were positioned on wooden shims that were crushed under the weight of the platform and the weight of the load. Therefore, for some time now, these large lifting platforms have operated in out of level position. Additionally, all of these platforms were missing their kickplates. Missing kickplates were causing falling objects hazard and possible foot injury to the operating public.

Fabrication and installation of large safety guards

The rather impressive size of these safety guards, 9.5 feet by 11.5 feet, and their removable aspect prompted rethinking of this project. Quickly it become obvious that transporting them would be difficult and it would be even more difficult to place them in place without a crane. The only option left was to fabricate them in sections and then assemble them in place.

Assembling in place was an excellent idea however, the common practice is to use posts between sections. And we could not do it due to client’s request. The client was right in its intentions since the guard should form a one plane sturdy surface for people and variety of objects using these large platform lifts. The distance should be about 3.5 inches from the handrail. Moreover, the scarcity of space between these safety guards did not allow for proper placement of posts and movement of maintenance people. Call us to install safety guards on your machinery.

Sturdiness of safety guards

Therefore the major obstacle was to maintain the sturdiness of safety guard over its 11.5 feet length. The solution was relatively easy to achieve. We have welded them up on long straight edges. In conclusion, we have fabricated them in the shop, then transported them in sections, and then we have welded/assembled them on straight edges. You can clearly see their straight position on the image below.

Straight and sectional safety guards placed on both sides of lifting platform, JW Portable Welding, London, Ontario, 2022
Straight, sturdy and sectional safety guards placed on both sides of lifting platform, JW Portable Welding, London, Ontario, 2022

Without any doubt the selection of materials for these safety guards played improved not only sturdiness but also allowed for effective welding them together. These guards were then painted by the client according to their mix of colours.

Attachment, of these guards to large size bollards was also an excellent idea. These bollards had base plates 5/8″ thick and their size is 3 feet by 3 feet. Not to mention 7/8″ anchors going 8″ deep into concrete. The bolts on the attachment to bollard and to wall allowed for removal of guard.

Some thoughts to fabricate a good safety guard

The selection of materials for safety guards is extremally important. The safety guard can not fail even if abused heavily by unexpected forces. Also, the safety guard has to be light enough to allow access to machinery for maintenance crew. It is important to place the guard at certain distance to operating machinery that will not allow interaction between machinery and the guard. Moreover, we must fabricate and then install safety guards in such a way to eliminate any interaction between movable parts of machinery and the public.

Here is a link to know more about safety guards. Please use this link to increase your knowledge about safety guards.

Improvements to platform lifts

The improvements to platform lifts included replacement of leveling shims, installation of kickplates, and repositioning of lifts’ controls. These three tasks not only have increased the safety of operating these platforms but also increased the utilization of these platforms. Call us to improve the operation of your platform lifts and increase their safety

Replacement of leveling shims and placement of new ones.

As much as it sounds improbable these platform lifts were placed on wooden shims. Some of these wooden shims were made from hardwood but others were made from plywood. Moreover, shims were missing in places under the structure where wheel is located when the platform lift is in highest position. Therefore, the structural angle used by the traveling wheel was bowing at that place. Placement of shims at front two corners and placement of steel shims under the structure where the wheel stops have increased stability and utilization time.

Installation of kickplates

Missing kickplates on a platform lift form a hazard of foot slip and object fall. Both hazards were significant since public including children were present on these platform lifts. And, the public have used these lifts to transport different size of objects to store them in these facilities. According to facility’s owner, small objects were falling very often from the lifts and then some people tried to retrieve these small objects from under the lifts. Obviously, the facility crew have prohibited such activities but there were many close calls. Imagining this acts stop my heart for a moment even when I am writing this article.

In the effort to correct this safety hazard, we have welded long kickplates along the both sides of the deck in each of these platforms. These kickplates now separate the deck of the lifting platform from a safety guard and provide the safety barrier for feet and small objects.

We have welded kickplates to the decks and to the bottom of handrails. In this way the kickplate separates public's feet and small objects from interaction with safety guards. JW Portable Welding, London, Ontario, 2021
We have welded kickplates to the decks and to the bottom of handrails. In this way the kickplate separates public’s feet and small objects from interaction with safety guards. JW Portable Welding, London, Ontario, 2021

Repositioning of lifting platforms’ controls

As communicated by the facility’s owner, the controls of the platform lifts were often crushed by trucks backing up. They were mounted on the front bollard surface facing the backing trucks and they were protected by special safety guards. Although, it wasn’t a perfect location, the general public was able to quickly find these controls without facility’s crew help.

During our overhaul of these platform lifts, we have placed these controls on bollards very close to their original position. We have simply used duct tape to attach them to bollards.

However, later on, we have changed the position of these controls by placing them on plates welded to the side of the bollards. In this way, the bollard was still protecting the controls of the lifting platform. The controls were separated from the bollard since the were fastened to steel plates welded to safety guards. And most importantly, their location was catching the eyes of the public.