Since the spring of 2020, we have substantially changed the way that we shop. The goods that we typically bought during a foray onto the high street were no longer within our reach, as all but the essential shops were closed. So instead, we headed online. This trend had already started but the pandemic amplified our need for some virtual retail therapy.
This increase in demand has resulted in more HGV journeys, as more goods are moved in, out, and around distribution hubs.
Access onto a vehicle
Few sectors or industries are not affected by the subject of personnel having to work safely at height. Logistics and distribution are a good illustration of this, as a task such as getting in and out of a vehicle, for example, will mean someone having to work at height. Then there’s the need to access the actual load area and to the fifth wheel during routine operations such as loading/unloading, maintenance, and cleaning. Many falls from a vehicle occur when loading/unloading with over two-thirds of these accidents happening to non-drivers. With over three million people in Great Britain working on and around a vehicle as part of their regular job the need to ensure they do this safely is vitally important.
Some people might not consider that working from a vehicle as actual work at height, but the law states that falls from any height must be considered where someone could be injured. You don’t have to fall far to land hard.
Controlling this work at height is the initial step in managing its safety and the associated risks. The first thing to consider is avoiding work at height if you can. If this isn’t possible then think about implementing measures to prevent a fall from happening, including ones on the vehicle itself or ones specific to the actual site. Where a fall from height cannot be completely removed then use work equipment to reduce the distance and result of a fall.
Vehicle access solutions
Within maintenance and logistics working environments, safely accessing the side and rear of a cab unit can be a challenge. This became such a common issue that our customers were experiencing, that we decided to see if we could design an access solution that could tackle most of these problems. In 2019 we launched the Planet Platforms’ CabMate® system.
CabMate® rides over the fifth wheel which allows it to be used on the front, rear, and sides of HGVs, and its ergonomic, multi-height design means it can be used on various vehicles by different personnel.
The platform is contoured to fit around wind deflectors if used on the rear of the vehicle, and its aluminium modular design means it is compliant with manual handling regulations, with low-resistance swivel castors allowing for easy movement once assembled.
Where periods of longer and higher work are the tasks faced, gantry systems offer a safer solution. They can be single or double-tiered, single, or multiple bay with access steps configurations to suit the depot environment.
Aluminium is the preferred material of choice as it offers the increased strength and rigidity to accommodate the larger and higher spans needed to reach, for example, the tops of HGVs.
The Benefits of choosing a Planet Platforms vehicle access system
Manufactured from aluminium - lightweight and incredibly strong
Bespoke designs for specific purposes
Will not rust and suitable for outside applications
Many profiles giving greater design options
Mobile solutions that can be quickly brought into service
Designs in accordance with BS14122
Manufactured in the UK
The distribution hub and the movement of goods
The movement of goods and vehicles in and out of a distribution hub needs to be effectively managed, as this dynamic work environment can change daily. Being elevated helps managers to better coordinate the distribution of goods. Planet Platforms raised observation stands have been designed with this in mind.
Manufactured from lightweight aluminium with a rubberised anti-slip decking the platforms accommodate personnel, office furniture and IT equipment. Fitted with guardrails around the whole perimeter gives personnel a completely safe work area, and the fitting of forklift truck pockets enables the platforms to be quickly moved.
Ensuring the smooth flow of goods
Distribution hubs are a highly automated environment, with conveyor system operating 24/7, 365 days a year. Any bottlenecks in these, such as goods becoming stuck through equipment failure can quickly lead to backlogs in delivery and missed critical milestones.
Safely accessing, traversing, and maintaining these critical infrastructure points will be done so at height. Walkways, maintenance and bridging platform ensure this is done safely and efficiently, whilst mitigating the associated work at height risks.
So, as we move into a more online world, the goods we purchased, their movement from point of source and finally to our front door, will have meant many people will have worked at height. How this journey was safely managed is more than likely not a consideration that is going to affect the purchase, but our experience shows that multiple stakeholders will have done so along the way.