Workers in the aviation, oil and gas, transportation, utility and mining industries may not have much in common with one another but there is one challenge these hard working men and women share; the threat of serious injury or death from a fall.
Whether their work takes them to the top of a tanker truck or the wing of an aircraft, the outcome of a fall can be equally tragic if these workers aren’t properly protected.
Training and experience can help lessen the likelihood of an accident but the right fall protection system can almost completely eliminate the chance of a catastrophic fall.
OSHA has clear guidelines when it comes to protecting employees who work on any type of elevated surface. These rules can mandate a variety of fall protection systems depending on the industry.
Guardrails, anchors, and horizontal lifelines are just some of the systems employed to keep workers safe as they complete daily tasks and routine maintenance at heights of greater than four feet or, in the case of the construction industry, six feet.
The type of system depends on the industry and the application. For employees who are required to load, unload bulk cargo or perform maintenance on rail cars, aircraft, and trucks, overhead fall protection is the choice for providing flexibility in movement and safe access.
Overhead fall protection systems are basically comprised of a harness which connects the worker to an overhead trolley system running along a rigid track or cable. The self-retracting line, which tethers the worker to the track above, allows them to complete their work efficiently while keeping them safe from the potentially tragic consequences of a fall.
Many varieties of systems are available to meet the various needs of multiple applications, but the two basic types of overhead fall protection systems are free standing and building mounted.
Free Standing Overhead Fall Protection Systems
Free standing overhead fall protection systems are most frequently found outdoors in shipyards, loading area, train yards, drop sites, and airports. Since these systems are exposed to the elements year round, they must be durable and dependable.
Free-standing systems are typically available in special non-corrosive finishes which allow them to stand up to rain, snow and ice. There are a number of variations on this system which allow it to be customized for almost any application.
The span of these systems offers safety without compromising maneuverability, allowing the worker to travel easily across the work zone in comfort and peace of mind.
Building Mounted Overhead Fall Protection Systems
For indoor applications, where floor space is precious, a building mounted system works best.
By attaching a fall protection system to the structure itself, an operation can better ensure the safety of workers without sacrificing much room in the building. Just like the freestanding model, workers are able to move with confidence while performing maintenance and other routine tasks on aircraft, trucks, and buses.
It is vital that the system is properly maintained and that workers are correctly trained in it’s proper usage. Whether you choose a cable horizontal lifeline or a rigid rail fall system for your indoor applications, you can rest assured your people will be fully protected in the event of a fall when the system is designed by a qualified fall protection professional.
By Peter Kavia
CAI Safety Systems
Peter has been a safety expert for almost 20 years and is certified as a Qualified Fall Protection expert. He currently holds the title of Director of Operations for CAI Safety Systems, a custom turnkey fall protection company in Southern California.