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Our technicians at Ability International never shy away from a difficult job, so when we were asked to help a data centre with an on-site hazard that they couldn’t reach, we were happy to help.

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The Problem

The issue for this company was a serious one – a fire suppression room containing 322 gas bottles with an automatic valve which is out of reach. Due to the confined space and the need to inspect and service these valves every six months, we knew that we had to devise a solution.

The gas bottles are filled with IG55, which completely extinguishes fires but is also breathable. With 322 bottles in the fire suppression room, they have over three times the capacity of gas required to fill the data halls.

We were contacted by the facilities management company to try to find a solution to reach the valves located at the end of the row, above the bottles, as they had no viable way of doing this. This was viewed as a serious potential risk by the clients’ health and safety officer.

The difficulty with this job was space – without using a custom-built ladder, there was no way to access the valve. Our problem was even worse as we couldn’t get access over the gas bottles to measure the height. A real chicken and egg situation. The only way to achieve this was by estimating the height, manufacturing a first attempt solution, making corrections, and measuring again until we got it right.

The Solution

Once we were satisfied with our estimated measurements, we decided the best approach would be to design a ladder with a fixed platform. This would then hook onto existing Unistrut, allowing access up and over the top of the bottles.

Due to the initial issues with measurements, we knew that the first iteration would not be a perfect fit so, we manufactured a first attempt. When we tried it on site we found, as expected, it did not fit but, we could now reach to take the measurements we had estimated. We returned to the factory, modified the original design, and went back a second time to provide, what turned out to be, a final design platform ladder. Following this, the clients’ health and safety officer was happy to remove this risk from their list of potential hazards on-site, a big success for everyone involved!

Whether you’re looking for solutions to reach inaccessible areas in your workplace or are looking for a safe way to work at height, Ability International is here to help. We provide bespoke solutions to help our customers work at height safely, so for more information about our services, please contact us today.

 

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