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ALEM remains focused on safety

11 November 2016

The issue of safety has been very much to the forefront during the past 12 months with the introduction and implementation of a significant European standard and an important guidance document.

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 and dock shelters. In this role, the Association is a member of the British Materials Handling Association which itself is the UK national member of FEM - the European Federation of Materials Handling and Storage Equipment.

2016 has seen ALEM continue to represent companies involved in providing equipment and services for the safe handling of loads. In fact, the issue of safety has been very much to the forefront during the past 12 months with the introduction and implementation of a significant European standard and an important guidance document.

The first of these relates to EN1570: Safety requirements for lifting tables Part 2: covering lifting tables, serving more than two fixed landings of a building, for lifting goods with a vertical travel speed not exceeding 0.15 m/s. Ratified in August 2016 and now being implemented, Part 2 includes the following 

  • The lift designer is to have a clear understanding of the anticipated use, load to be carried and method of loading before design can commence.  Similarly, it must be made clear to the final user of the restrictions of use to ensure that, for example, any ‘catalogue type’ lift is fit for purpose.
  • The lift platform must be locked at floor level, or within a 150mm zone, when stationary at floor levels. This can be achieved by, but not restricted to, shootbolts or some kind of pawl device. Anticipated loadings for each landing are to be supplied to the client or their representative to ensure the building will support the given loads.
  • More onus is placed on the designer to ensure compliance with other referenced standards with regard to clearances and protection. This standard no longer provides the information, other than the cross reference
  • Greater clarification is given in the standard with regard to travel zone protection and platform and landing entrance locking performance levels
  • Vertical barriers are being permitted at landings. However, this went against the UKs recommendations so should be used with careful selection and after intensive risk assessments before use.
  • Powered landing doors can automatically open when the lift arrives at floor if the load is retained on the platform, but they have to be under local pushbutton control to close due to the risk of entrapment
  • From a designer’s perspective, greater clarification is given to the operation of the hydraulic pipe break / rupture valves
  • CEN consultants have approved that an allowance of greater than the 10% overloading capacity as mandated in the Machinery Directive is acceptable, to a maximum of 40%, due to the restrictions of current technology. This gives designers more flexibility but the machine must be structurally capable of the increased loading and tested to prove
  • As a draft of this new standard was submitted for approval before a working group was called to review it, there was a time constraint to complete.  Therefore, if there are any minor issues with the standard they will be considered during the next 5 year review. Any major problems will have to be addressed as an amendment.

Tim Rose of Loading Bay Lifts Ltd, ALEM’s representative on the BSI committee, stated that “If it hadn’t been for ALEM’s representation in Europe via FEM, no one would have known this standard was being progressed with the safety, design and application implications it had at the time. ALEM’s voice called together all interested parties to develop this standard in a much better and workable way, and in the nick of time! It may not be absolutely perfect, but at least we have something that is useable.  Currently EN1570-1, Lifting tables serving up to two fixed landings, is under review & if you want to have direct input into the development of this standard you need to get in touch with ALEM immediately. “

The second safety initiative highlighted by ALEM is the latest European guidance regarding the assessment of the safety and performance of vehicle restraining devices.

FEM recently published a document (EN 11.005) outlining guidance for the use of vehicle restraint systems to prevent ‘vehicle creep’ and unintended ‘driveaways’ during the loading and unloading of lorries, trucks and trailers. The document defines safety, performance and operating recommendations to provide a uniform means of comparison, improve user confidence and define safety aspects of various different vehicle restraining devices. Importantly, the guidance states that health and safety requirements will define which vehicle restraint device should be selected depending on the risk assessment and/or local conditions.

The guidance document looks at the importance of a number of operational factors, facilities and products used within a modern loading bay. These include loading docks, dock levellers, platforms, traffic lights, transport vehicles and materials handling equipment. Another important consideration of the document is focused upon the safety of personnel working in the vicinity of any moving parts. Within this scope, recommendations are made regarding the reliance upon interlocks with dock levellers and/or door controls plus the importance of feedback from loading bay operators and transport vehicle drivers.

Particular attention is also given within the guidance document to the calculation of horizontal forces and how these affect activities within a loading area.  Factors explored include vehicle heights and weights, wind loads, braking loads of loading equipment, driveway slopes and the coefficient of friction between dry tarmac and vehicle tyre rubber.

“This latest guidance document from FEM is both comprehensive and highly useful to our members and, ultimately, their customers,” says Andy Georgiou of Stertil Dock & Door Products and President of ALEM. “Safety has always been paramount in the hectic environment of a modern loading bay and the unintended movement of a vehicle during loading and unloading operations can be catastrophic.  The views of ALEM members contributed to the drafting of this European initiative and it’s just the latest step in our Association’s ongoing campaign to drive up standards throughout the UK’s logistics industry.”

The FEM guidance document can be downloaded free of charge from the ALEM website, www.alem.org.uk, at the information tab. A copy can also be requested by email to alem@admin.co.uk