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Stay safe in challenging times

10 November 2020

The Association of Loading and Elevating Equipment Manufacturers (ALEM) represents the interests of UK manufacturers and suppliers of loading bay equipment including dock levellers, scissor lifts, tail lifts, yard ramps and dock shelters. In this role, the Association is a member of the British Materials Handling Federation which itself is the UK national member of FEM - the European Federation of Materials Handling and Storage Equipment.

Throughout its 47 years of representing a growing membership, ALEM has always placed great emphasis on safety with the constant updating of safety standards and procedures. Accordingly, each member company invests considerable amounts of time, expertise and money to ensure that these products fully comply with all relevant EU Directives and Regulations and are completely safe to use.

Traditionally, safety considerations have focused on loading docks, dock levellers, platforms, traffic lights, transport vehicles and materials handling equipment. Subsequently, measures were introduced to ensure the safety of personnel working in the vicinity of any moving parts. Within this scope, attention has been directed at the reliance upon interlocks with dock levellers and/or door controls plus the importance of feedback from loading bay operatives and transport vehicle drivers.

However, the emergence of the Coronavirus pandemic has heightened the particular importance of safe working practices within the hectic environment of a modern loading bay. During these times, the efficiency of the UK’s logistics industry has been invaluable in the smooth delivery of essential goods to warehouses, hospitals, supermarkets and many other businesses throughout 2020. Consequently, employees within the industry have been recognised as key workers and ALEM has devised strategies to ensure the highest levels of personal protection.

John Meale – managing director of Thorworld Industries – has played an important role in ensuring that ALEM members respond positively to the current difficult trading conditions.  Speaking with vast industry experience, John is a current ALEM Executive Committee Member and President of the FEM Product Group Elevating Equipment. 

During his career, John has helped to influence standards, directives, regulations, guidance documents and measures for almost 40 years. He says, “As an Association, our advanced level of industry knowledge enables us to advise our members particularly regarding social distancing practices in loading and unloading areas.” 

John refers to installations fulfilled during the initial Coronavirus lockdown period, where ALEM members were still safely and successfully installing vital loading equipment designed to ensure frontline logistics and medical operations. “Allowing safe and successful logistics has - and continues to be - critical to enabling the movement of operations nationwide, from food supplies to medical deliveries.

“Those working in the logistics sector play an essential role in ensuring vital dispatch of goods and deliveries and, if social distancing measures are carried out correctly, there is no need for their important work to stop.

“To effectively support these key workers, we’ve relied heavily on the experience gained from first hand involvement with ALEM which is the best route to understanding the standards and regulations needed to perform safely and effectively in any situation, including emergency events.

“Whenever companies source loading bay equipment to support any circumstance, they need to ensure that the suppliers they are working with are qualified and approved to deliver all recommended standards, directives and regulations, applicable to the products they require and safety guidelines they must meet. This is where the importance of working with suppliers who are ALEM members is crucial.”

In conclusion, John adds: “All ALEM member companies are committed to providing an unbeatable service productively and safely. And, by applying their proven knowledge and experience, our members are uniquely qualified to provide truly effective customer support.”



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North Yorkshire


Work on standards

This year, ALEM helped the CEN/TC 98 European standards committee when it released its draft revision of the European Standard on Safety requirements for lifting tables (Part 1) – preEN1570-1: 2020. ALEM opened up the process to comment from interested parties in the UK. 

The revised standard, which applies to lifting tables serving up to two fixed landings, represents a wholesale restructure of the standard, last published in 2011. 

Key revisions proposed were:  

  • the inclusion for lifting tables in non-industrial applications; Static Elevating Work Platforms and lifting tables used in Skillet lines or Autonomous Ground Vehicles
  • the ability to pass a fixed landing and to carry authorised persons when under operator control
  • the introduction of rated and structural loads
  • the replacement of EN 1570-1:2011+A1:2014, Table 3 – Lift installation safeguard requirements with new flow charts within Annex I – Guide to travel zone risks
  • where appropriate, risk of falling is now associated with the height of fall rather than the travel height of the machine
  • greater emphasis on protection of the public when the lifting tables are used in public accessible areas
  • the reintroduction of boom barriers and clarity on interlocking and locking requirements for removable guardrails
  • locking of the lift table when at an upper fixed landing
  • the relaxation of overload monitoring limits due to the lack of appropriate state of the art equipment
  • restrictions on the use of pipe rupture protection devices in hydraulic systems
  • the introduction of rigid / pusher chains and the removal of pneumatic drives

CEN Committee member Tim Rose, of Loading Bay Lifts, and ALEM’s technical advisor states: “A lot of committee time has been dedicated to this rewrite. We believe the new version is more user-friendly and includes some much needed updates in terms of scope and technical requirements.”