Know the regs and teach your customers.
Every day you meet with, talk to and send your customers the information they need to make very important decisions. Your products and services enable them to continue their daily operations, keep productivity flowing and keep profits rising. Like yourself, other lift truck distributors are also trying to obtain your customers’ business. You strive to stay one step ahead, offering the best price and lift truck service available. Again, the competition is right there with you.
How do you break this mold? The answer is very simple, but the process to get there, while not difficult, requires some work. Imagine you have just walked into your customer’s warehouse for your regular visit. The plant manager is busy and cannot break to see you. While talking to the receptionist, you hear the following story:
“You would not believe it; Jack left his workstation to go on break. When he got back to his station, he found the lift truck operator, who was loading pallets in the aisle behind Jack’s area, had pushed a pallet through the rack and dropped it off the back end. Jack’s work bench chair and computer were all crushed. It is a miracle that Jack wasn’t sitting there when it happened.”
A miracle for Jack and a golden opportunity for you, because you have the solution. When you can get the plant manager’s attention, you let him know that there is a set of designed and engineered systems specific for this need, a rated rack guard netting system that can attach to his existing rack. The plant manager is interested. You rush back out there, take some measurements and send the information off to the manufacturer. In no time at all, the system is on its way.
You have just taken the first step in becoming a more valuable asset to your customer, having now become his partner in solving his problems. The next step is to become his partner in helping him recognize his needs before these problems arise. This is where you can rise above the competition.
Regulations and Guidelines
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have created regulations and guidelines for providing a safe working environment. A few of these are:
In addition to these OSHA regulations, ANSI B20.1 outlines requirements for protecting workers from falling objects.
Use the regulations and guidelines to help your customers provide the safest possible environment for their employees. In addition to the above, there are other areas OSHA has set forth regulations for employee safety. Being aware of these regulations and how they apply to your industry will give you the tools to proceed.
As the solution provider, take the initiative and offer to do a walk-through of your customer’s facility. Some of the prime areas to look at are in-plant offices with pallet racks near them, travel areas that have conveyors passing over them, work/pick stations under areas that have pallet rack storage. Anywhere product is moved or stored above the employees are areas that need to be reviewed with your customer. It is important to remember that you are not only providing safety barriers for the employees, but are also providing a means by which the product stays on the pallet rack or conveyor. By accomplishing this, your customer will realize less breakage, waste and downtime.
Protecting employees from falling objects off pallet racks, conveyors or mezzanines can be accomplished using safety netting. Netting is a strong, flexible product that can be easily adapted to the existing plant and warehouse structure. Additionally, netting is used as a barrier for machine guarding, as well as a medium to wrap pallet loads or to keep product from falling from a cart.
Another area of concern for employee safety is when the employee is working more than six feet off the floor, as in an order picker. This type of situation requires fall arrest equipment. The use of self-retracting lifelines, harnesses and lanyards can solve this problem easily.
Once you have used the walk-through to identify prime areas that can cause injury to employees, areas to lessen product loss or ways to keep productivity flowing, the next step is to provide the solutions. It is key that you have at your disposal a manufacturer that has the same mindset who can provide the product needed along with the technical and engineering services. A supplier will be your partner in safety and can provide a range of products to help meet whatever needs may arise.
You may find that once the process has started, your customers have had these concerns all along, but were not aware of viable solutions. You can become one of their most valuable assets, since you have now become not only their lift truck safety product supplier, but someone with an interest in their employees’ safety, the company’s well being, and a solutions provider. Through the use of walk-throughs you have become their partner in safety. This perception will move you out of the realm of the other lift truck suppliers, and it is this perception that will prompt the customer to call you when a problem arises.
|Meet the Author
Maurice Russo is industrial products sales manager at Sinco/Sala in Middletown, Connecticut.