Safety – Trolleys
Thanks for some of the supportive feedback on last weeks blog which suggested that safety isn't a dry topic, and that thoughts and ideas on how to create safer work environments are always worth a read.
This week the target is trolleys (or carts as they are sometimes called). This section follows last weeks blog on unloading glass, so we are working our way through the factory. I've divided this section into "Poor designs" and "Wear".
Safety issues can arise from poor designs of trolleys. Some examples I've seen are :
1. Poor choice of castors. For the castor to allow the operator to roll the loaded trolley across a factory floor the castor needs to be of the correct diameter and design. Also see the section below on wear.
2. Poor mounting of castors. Many castors require a castor plat to be fixed to the trolley which the castor bolts too. If the castor plate is poorly mounted then this becomes and weakest link and can fail under load, creating a tipping safety hazard.
3. Wrong use of fixed castors, turning castors, turning braked castors, and foot brakes.
4. No provision for securing the load when being moved. See details on The Glass Racking Company safety arms HERE.
5. Using the wrong sized trolley for the job. The most common error here is having glass items sticking out the ends of the trolley which staff can walk into.
6. Using the wrong trolley for the job. Harp trolleys for example are designed for either single glaze or double glaze. For this reason all factories need surplus trolleys to ensure sufficient trolleys of the right design are available at all times.
7. No easy to use handle for pushing the trolley, which encourages staff to push on the load rather than on the trolley.
8. Using transportation trolleys (which typically have a product lean of 5 degrees) for factory work (where trolley should have a lean of 7 degrees). Some form of retention should be used.
9. Using trolleys which have removable castors. Pinned castors allow a trolleys castors to be easily removed for transportation on a flat bed truck. The safety of the operators is reliant on pins not failing, and being used correctly. I believe this to be an unsafe practise and poor design.
10. Lastly is unsafe factory flooring. This includes broken concrete, too much debris left on the factory floor, and sloping floors (often where two buildings with different level floors have been joined). We need to make it easy to roll trolleys loaded with glass around our factories.
An old boating friend of mine once said "Everything on this boat will eventually wear out. They key to safe boating is to know the items life expectancy and replace it before it fails". Factory handling equipment such as trolleys is a great example of this. These key items in a glass factory are subject to wear and parts will need replacing.
The most common points of failure for trolleys are the bearing surface for the glass, and the castors. The bearing surface commonly used is stick on foam rubber tape. General factory use will cause this to wear and peel off over time. It's easy to replace and is more a management issue to make sure that it is replaced. Likewise for trolleys which use timber bearing surfaces.
An alternative product that we use on the bearing surfaces for The Glass Racking Company trolleys is our purpose designed polymer insert which slides into our role formed steel sections and aluminium sections. This is a very long life product designed for supporting glass and has many benefits. If it wears out, and from our experience in the last 10+ years it rarely needs replacing, it can be replaced by sliding out of the old polymer and sliding in the new polymer. Easy.
Castors are more of a safety issue. Trolleys used for movement of glass need to have castors rated for the weight of the load. For a standard 2 metre trolley this load carrying could be as high as 2 tons. Cheap castors which are not rated for this level of load will eventually fail in either the bearings, or worse still in the arms which support the wheel. Both types of castor failure can cause the trolley to tip over which is a very real safety issue for the operators.
As with the advise of my old boating friend, understanding the life expectancy is key. By using a castor which is rated for the load, predicting the life expectancy is far simpler. Each castor should be checked annually and replaced if showing any signs of wear. The Glass Racking Company uses a range of 6 inch 150mm diameter castors which are rated for 460kgs each. At times we supply these as retrofit items for customers trolleys which have been built with castors which were either unfit for purpose, or have failed.
For trolleys which have a lower quality rated castor predicting the life expectancy is far more difficult and that in itself creates a safety risk.
"Everything on this boat will eventually wear out. They key to safe boating is to know the items life expectancy and replace it before it fails."