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Safe removals elevators and floor loading

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Safe removals elevators and floor loading don’t always go together. In this post it is written as an overview to removing or relocating a safe in a building with a limited floor loading. I have been involved in the safe industry since 1980 when I worked for Lord safe company in Brisbane. Safe moving and safe relocating has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. Some of the practices that were acceptable then almost certainly would not be allowed now. Risk assessments and safe work method statements have replaced unsafe and risky “she will be right” attitudes.

Some people may contract a furniture mover rather than someone with the expertise and specialised equipment. They do this simply because it may be a little cheaper. However this is all good until there is an injury or an accident.  As a result of the weight of many safes the consequences when this happens can be dire. If you think that the costs will only be born by the injured party. Its worth noting that there are lots of law firms looking to make money out of anyone involved. Even the building owners.

Elevators and safes really dont mix. Many safes were taken up in the olden days whilst people turned a blind eye. Or maybe just weren’t informed or involved. I am told that its easier to go up with a load than down as the lift motor will work to pull the load up. Where as the brakes are used much more when lowering. Elevators are designed and built with ballast so as the “car’ is neutral when loaded in an “average” configuration. The correct starting point is to know the EXACT weight of the safe. With this information we then look next at the lifts capacity.

We like to work with a 10 – 20% buffer so if the lift capacity is 1000kg we will not put more than 900 kg in it. Often we require a lift technician to “drive” the lift from the lift motor room and they can also adjust the brakes. Its worth noting that we never ride in a lift with the safe when it is close to its capacity. Many “elevator cars” have sensors in the floor which measure the amount of flex in the floor.

Floor loading and its analysis is now very vogue with building managers. They want to ensure that the building will not be damaged by the placement of a heavy safe or similar. A compactus is another item they look closely at. It is always wise to consult Building Managers prior to moving a safe in. There is a formula to work out the pressure a safe will exert on the floor. Different buildings will have differing floor loadings but 200- 300 kg per square metre is not uncommon these days. I suggest contacting a structural engineer who can offer a professional opinion for dealing with this thorny issue.

The above information is written as an introduction and obviously each job needs to be assessed individually. I invite you to contact me about the above however I am really only able to comment on local situations.

 

Foot note, I occasionally get asked, “will a heavy safe damage my floor” or “will a heavy safe crack the concrete”. The short answer I give is “NO”. We often stack big heavy safes together, side by side on concrete slabs and there has not been an issue. Keep in mind these are “commercial concrete floors” but so long as the slab is a “ground floor” the weight is fully supported. If the heavy safe is to be placed on an upper floor its a totally different question.

I also get asked about heavy safes placed on top of a wooden floor and again it must be looked on a case by case basis. Last year we removed a heavy safe (1800 kg) from a building that had a wooden floor. The floor was sagging from the weigh so we had to “prop up” the floor to get it out safely. Call or email me for more info on this topic.

 

A 1400 kg safe being guided through a small doorway !
A 1400 kg safe being guided through a small doorway !

Safe removals elevators and floor loading

Safe removals elevators and floor loading
Why cant all elevators carry 4000kg ?

 

 

 

Floor support jacks
Floor support jacks
Floor Loading
A typical Floor Loading request sheet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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