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Project ARS: Safety

When working in an environment with many paper-form books stored closely with each other and powerful, massive, 3 story tall machines, there is risk for fire and human injury. This page seeks to identify some of the known risks and address some safety procedures and aids to decrease risk of fire/fire-damage and human injury on site. Not all safety devices/procedures are documented here, but many are included for review:

(More below)


Fire Safety:

  • The 3 story tall chamber has a water based sprinkler system for each aisle. This allow water to spray onto a space if it should catch fire.
  • Exposed Steel I-beams in the walls of the chamber are covered in an insulation material to slow the rate at which the steel might heat up and increase the time required for the steel to melt and lose integrity. This is meant to help keep the building standing longer while a fire is burning inside than it would without insulation on the steel support beams.
  • Bins have no "lids", but the rack space is configured such that about one inch of clearance exists between the top of a bin in the rack, and the framed space from which a bin is pulled from the rack and placed back into the rack. This limit in space above each bin, except the bins at the very top, decreases the rate at which oxygen may flow to a fire in a bin. This slows the speed at which a fire may burn and spread.
  • Temperature control for the whole room keeps the chamber rather cool. Conventional work-spaces are frequently not left this cool, but the lower temperatures decrease risk of fire from the sheer volume of tightly packed paper.
  • California law and campus rules do not permit smoking in the building, or with a specific number of feet of breezeways or exit/entrances to the building. This decreases risk of fire started by ignited cigarettes or cigars.

Safety from Physical Injury:

  • Manual "E-Stop" (Emergency Stop) buttons exist at both ends of each aisle. These may be depressed by human operators at any time to drop power from being supplied to the crane on the aisle. It is known that inertia is still present and a crane in motion will not "stop on a dime", but people are told to never enter any aisle - even if an item should fall in an aisle. Only authorized personnel are supposed to enter any aisle.
  • Authorized personnel such as our campus engineers, mechanical technicians, preventive maintenance employees, ARS Supervisor and myself are permitted to enter the aisles and back maintenance area. Proper use of "lock-out/tag-out" procedures are used when maintenance or work is required in an aisle. When followed, this helps to prevent accidental physical injury to our people from unexpected crane motion by requiring a key in possession of the employee in the aisle be required before the machine may receive remote move instructions. Not following this procedure places the maintenance employee at risk for injury.
  • All aisles are visually inspected for obstructions and/or people before being brought to a powered and online state.
  • While powered and ready to receive commands from any computer to action, no person should enter any aisle or any "yellow zones" painted on the floor. Yellow zones painted in the back area of the ARS (out of public view) specify regions in general travel beyond the obvious aisles where a crane may pass.
  • Before starting motion after a few minutes of inactivity, the crane will emit a loud series of beeps before starting motion. This is another warning to any operators if they should be in an aisles without following proper procedures for "lock-out/tag-out".
  • On-board the crane are collision sensors to trip local "E-Stop" on the crane. These sensors exist on the front and the back of the crane. If any of these encounter an object or person in the aisle, the crane triggers an "E-stop event" and shuts down its power. Due to inertia, the crane may continue to drift a short distance until friction dampens the motion. This is another safety item if for some reason a person does not follow the proper lock-out/tag-out procedures.
  • The double doors leading to the ARS chamber are left locked unless a person is available and working inside the chamber.
  • In the event the coated steel rope/cable used to raise and lower the ARS carriage should break, brakes are set on the carriage to drag against the center mast to slow or prevent such a free-fall event.
  • A steel cage door to the back area used by the authorized maintenance personnel is left closed and locked unless the authorized employee is immediately available.
  • Once any E-stop event has been triggered, an authorized maintenance employee must visit the crane in the maintenance area to resolve the E-stop condition, verify the crane is operational, and ensure there is no risk for injury or damage before bringing the crane back online for service. If the E-stop event was triggered by a human operator, then an explanation of the reasons for the E-stop is found. If the E-stop was trigger by another event, the event is diagnosed to see why the event occurred and evaluate what can be done to prevent it in the future.

In the event of a run-away-crane:

  • Heavy-duty shock-absorbers exist at each end of the aisle. These are bolted to the floor.
  • At the EAWS (End of Aisle Work Station) end of the aisle, there is also a large, yellow, steel bracing frame bolted to the floor to stop or slow a crane if it should pass the shock-absorber above.
  • At the EAWS end of the aisle, there is a heavy, blue, steel counter system also bolted to the floor to help stop or slow a crane if all of the above should not.
  • The walls at each end of the aisle appear to be made of 2-4 foot thick enforced concrete to help absorb the impact of a crane if it should pass all of the above safety systems.
  • Second and third floor viewing windows are made with 6-8 inch steel frames, and have double-sheets of reinforced glass with 4 small 18"x6" viewing spaces for each window area. These are meant to decrease risk to any person who might stand at these viewing locations in the event of an out of control crane.

Comments and/or suggestions?: Email me at: dugan@passwall.com

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