fall protection plane aircraft

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 Guidelines

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 Systems

overhead-fall-protectionOverhead 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

permanent_freestanding_1_6Free 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

building_mounted_1_0For 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.

Peter KaviaBy 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.

Warehouses and manufacturing facilities are, on their best days, structures that function like well-oiled machines. Like most machines, though, there’s always a chance for something to go wrong.

When there’s an issue at an industrial facility, the ramifications can be shocking to say the least. In a best case scenario, one only has to worry about a loss of profits. At the worst, one may have to deal with a catastrophic loss of life.

That’s why it’s so important to deal with preventable issues before they become real problems. One such issue that’s incredibly easy to deal with is the potential for fall injuries.

Fall Prevention

Slip and fall injuries are the bane of any workplace. All it takes is one misplaced step for an employee to tumble to the ground, and the level of damage that one can sustain in such a fall can be far greater than you might expect.

In a warehouse or shipping context, a slip and fall can be even worse – a worker might collide with machinery or find himself or herself tumbling off of a loading dock. Fortunately, a bit of foresight can help you to prevent some of the worst-case scenarios from occurring. A few useful products can literally make the difference between life and death.

Guard Rails

Perhaps the most important piece of safety equipment you can put into place in a facility with a loading bay or dock is a side mounted guard rail. There’s nothing fancy about them, and the humble guard rail really hasn’t changed much in the past several decades. There’s a reason for that, of course – guard rails are simple and effective.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 10.49.26 AMGuardrails specifically designed for loading docks are side mounted versus top mounted to decrease the possibility of trips and allow you to keep valuable floor space. The railings can also be removable to allow for a bigger openings as needs may arise.

Putting up a rail can help you to prevent an individual who’s not paying attention from falling off a dock, while providing guidance for those who might have their sight otherwise impeded. Simply putting up the railings can help you drastically reduce the potential for an accident.

Safety Gates

Safety gates are likewise quite useful in industrial settings. By creating a simple point of entry and exit, you can cordon off areas that might be dangerous.

Gates may not always prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to a dangerous area, but they serve as a valuable warning – individuals who go through gates are generally cognizant of the fact that they’re going through a barrier.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 11.05.49 AMIf you’ve got a large loading dock, a split opening cantilever gate might be the best way for you to impede unauthorized access while still keeping a wide berth open for materials heading out to the trucks. These gates are simple and easy to use, but provide a wide access point when they need to be opened.

Safety gates that swing inwards have a large turning radius and take up a lot of real estate in your shipping area. Vertical of cantilever gates allow you to keep your floor space and still give you the benefits of a fall protection gate.

If you’re looking for something a bit more static or that is a bit easier to move, a single opening cantilever gate can do the job just as well. It’s difficult to go wrong with either choice, though, as they can prevent falls through providing a simple blockage point.

The Result: More Protection

If you want to provide your industrial facility with a greater level of fall protection, your first and best set of tools will be barriers. Whether you are looking for a permanent or permeable solution, the truth of the matter is that taking these small steps can make your workplace safer for both you and for those who work for you.