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Road & Rail: Work-at-Height Solutions for Loading and Unloading Trailers and Rail Cars

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Published on: January 9, 2024

Riding the road and rail is celebrated in song and fable. They herald romance, freedom, escape, and discovery…but tend to sidestep freight transportation’s vital function in our lives and livelihoods. Even when the economic role of trucks and trains is recognized, the workers’ tasks of loading and unloading trailers and railcars are obscured.

Just as many ballads have tragic endings, working at height can result in unfortunate outcomes. To help prevent falls and other accidents—and follow safety regulations—the transportation industries must provide our unheralded employees with fall protection solutions that keep them safe and singing the praises of living and working.

Overhead at a lower cost.

Loading and unloading trucks and rail cars from overhead is commonplace and dangerous. It is also challenging to accommodate different heights of the freight car conveyors. Fortunately, there are ideal overhead cable and lifeline systems that reduce risks to workers, meet regulatory requirements, and enable transportation companies to bolster productivity and profitability.

Truck and Trailer Fall Protection

Cable systems are available in single and multi-span configurations. Stainless steel single-span systems protect up to three workers throughout 200 feet. Multi-span systems can handle horizontal, vertical, inclined, and curved working requirements over unlimited lengths.

Truck and Trailer Fall Protection

Rigid rail systems with retractable lifelines mounted on an enclosed track provide zero deflection arrest, a 100:1 movement-to-weight ratio, and optional bypass capability. They also eliminate build-up from dust, debris, ice, and snow.

All types of overhead fall protection can be customized to integrate with existing structures and adapt to different heights. However, lightweight and modular rigid rail systems offer distinct advantages in small spaces when single user fall arrest protection is necessary.

Looking out for overhead.

As versatile and practical as overhead systems are, transportation companies need to look beyond installing equipment for workers.

  • Workers must be trained correctly in donning and using the fall protection equipment.
  • Equipment must be inspected frequently, and components must be replaced when necessary.
  • Fall arrest and rescue plans may also be needed.

Platforms as a sideline.

Truck and Trailer Fall Protection

Where space permits, safe access platforms provide superior fall protection because they can safeguard multiple workers without the need for special equipment or training. At the minimum, they should consist of non-slip steps, platform, and gangway surfaces with guardrails and toe boards designed to withstand the loads they may encounter. Railings and other galvanized steel or aluminum components are strong, durable, and corrosion-resistant.

Not all platforms are created equal. They can be configured to meet a variety of loading and unloading tasks, including turnkey solutions.

  • Single Hatch Access Platforms – feature easy-to-raise-and-lower gangways and racks compatible with loading arms.
  • Adjustable Gangways – reach multiple vehicles and hatches, including poorly spotted rail cars.
  • Covered Access Platforms – for weather and product protection.
  • Canopy Systems – that incorporate single or double-sided loading with free-standing or integrated platforms and other features.
  • Elevating And Articulating Handrail Systems – to accommodate several vehicles simultaneously, including tight or restricted spaces.

Which solution is best for you?

Depending on the industry, elevations as low as 4 feet or 6 feet can be considered “working at height.” If you are responsible for protecting workers in the truck or rail freight industry, you know that trailers average about 14-ft. high and railroad cars generally average between 11-to-16 or more feet high.

For the most practical, safe solutions to protect your workers, contact Flexible Lifeline Systems. We can discuss your needs and concerns about regulatory compliance, visit your site to conduct a safety audit and map out a plan of action. Our services can include as little or as much as you need, from design, engineering, and fabrication to installation, training, and other support.

Connect with certified fall protection professionals who are addressing risks and hazards like yours today. Learn more about safer more effective trailer loading and unloading: https://fall-arrest.com/fall-protection-industries/trucks-trailers/

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