Heatec, Inc., an Astec company and manufacturer of heaters and liquid storage tanks, was tasked with reducing its ladder usage throughout the entire facility. Human Resources Director Wesley Jones had the job of finding a ladder replacement. Because of the large size and customized nature of the products Heatec manufactures, ladders are used throughout their manufacturing facilities to reach overhead areas.

Ladder Replacement Search
Jones began his search for a suitable ladder replacement by holding a series of meetings with plant safety and supervisory personnel, engineering department personnel and others to review how and where ladders were being used and discuss ways to reduce their usage. Although everyone recognized the potential dangers of using ladders, no one in those meetings could offer a suggestion as to how to achieve that goal.

It wasn’t until attending an expo in Indianapolis, Indiana, that Jones found what he was looking for. Jones noticed a demonstration of a new product from JLG Industries called a LiftPod. As he watched a person in an enclosed basket being safely lifted to an overhead work area, he felt that it might offer a viable solution to the ladder reduction goal.

LiftPod Test Drive
When he returned to Chattanooga, Jones immediately arranged for a JLG LiftPod to be delivered to Heatec for evaluation in their plant. Following a thorough examination and extensive testing by plant workers, the results were in – the LiftPod performed exactly as promised. Worker fatigue was reduced considerably because they no longer had to climb up and down a ladder. Safety was increased since workers didn’t have to use their hands to hold onto a ladder while climbing, or risk having their feet slip off a rung while stepping up to a higher or lower rung. Other safety features that contributed to these results were an aluminum basket with guardrails that provides fall protection; a spring-operated inward opening gate that automatically closes upon entry; aluminum toeboards to help prevent tools or other objects from falling; and a built-in tray with 35-pound capacity that attaches to the basket and keeps tools and accessories conveniently within reach.

Workers Prefer the LiftPod
Since its purchase by Heatec, the JLG LiftPod has been in almost constant use throughout the factory. It has reduced ladder usage and workers are finding new ways to use it on an almost daily basis. Where applicable, it has become the preferred method of accessing overhead areas and workers often wait to perform non-critical jobs until it is available for their use. Jones said that he has found that the LiftPod works so well in reducing their use of ladders that he demonstrated it at a corporate-wide Safety Summit held at the Heatec facility where representatives from Astec companies throughout the United States, Canada, Africa and Australia were in attendance.

The JLG LiftPod is clearly a product that deserves to be considered when companies are looking to reduce ladder usage in their facilities. After all, if companies can eliminate or reduce potential areas where accidents occur, they are making the workplace a safer place to work.