A Good Step Toward Greater Safety


A Good Step Toward Greater Safety

Sharing your ideas on how to reduce sprained ankles

Any elevated surface your employees need to access can pose some level of risk to their safety. 

Recently, a component manufacturer (CM) contacted the SBCA Safety Committee for help after an employee sprained an ankle getting down from a gantry press. In 24 hours, the SBCA committee put together some best practices they hope all CMs can use to keep employees safe. 

Start by identifying anything you can do to easily (and safely) modify the way your employees are getting on and off of the tables. “Now we fill in the walkways, but we’ve also used small sets of mobile stairs for them to walk down instead of jumping down,” explains Rick Parrino, general manager for Plum Building Systems, LLC. If you’re planning to fill the space between openings in the table, be sure any alterations do not damage the machinery or interfere with how it operates and is maintained. 

Another solution involves installing “step downs” in key locations along the length of the table. Bobby Harrison, safety coordinator at True House Inc., indicated that these “step downs” (see photos) were their solution because not all of the tables were configured the same way and in some areas stairs would obstruct the press.

Training is also a critical factor in gantry press safety. The first piece of advice everyone suggested was simply this: Discourage your employees from jumping on or off the table.

As lead trainer of production at Shelter Systems Limited, Randy Rickels focuses on the following when he trains new and current team members:

  • Always maintain three points of contact when getting on or off of an elevated surface.
  • Face the machinery you are climbing on or off.
  • Look where you are stepping.

“You have to keep the walkways clean and clear,” says Randy. “Slip and trip hazards like oil, cords, and tools make getting up and down from the tables even more dangerous.”

And it may be easiest to simply consider a small procedural change to minimize the number of times an employee needs to get up and down. At Plum, they’re trying a new system where the people on the table assembling the truss are also in charge of running the press so they aren’t frequently getting up and down. And folks at Shelter Systems are similarly encouraged to stay on the table unless it’s for a break or an emergency.

No matter your approach, there are numerous simple ways to keep your employees (and their ankles) safe! Have you found a different solution to solve this problem? The SBCA Safety Committee would like know. Share your approach by emailing Molly. For more industry-specific safety information and best practices, check out SBCA’s website at sbcindustry.com/safety

About the Author: Molly Butz searches for industry best practices that can help component manufacturers grow a stronger safety culture throughout their operations.