Published on: October 11, 2023
It pays to prioritize safety. It is widely accepted that companies with strong and healthy cultures tend to have stronger and healthier revenues and profits across all industries. In fact, according to a study conducted over 13-years by EHS Today, research shows that “safe companies” outperform their counterparts by three times.
When industrial businesses prioritize efficiency and cost reduction over the importance of comprehensive safety programs, they run the risk of exposing themselves to operational risk. For facilities focused on meeting new energy demands, implementing OSHA-compliant fall protection systems and services becomes a critical operational function. High-performing organizations will have well-trained employees who are more thoughtful, aware, and confident. When employees work at height, they must be knowledgeable in safety procedures and how to integrate those safety measures into daily operations, to ensure the continuity of the business.
Workers in energy, utility, and power industries are exposed to significant risks and hazards associated with confined spaces, fire hazards, and exposure to flammable and toxic gases. When it comes to fall hazards, utility companies, like any industrial industry, workers are vulnerable to slips and falls. The utility and energy industry uses a wide range of horizontal, vertical, and inclined active and passive fall protection systems to reduce risk and manage fall hazards.
This article covers some of the more common safe and complaint ways workers access structures and equipment used in the collection, production, storage, and transmission of utilities by industry and application. For more details, contact a competent and qualified fall protection specialist.
Fall protection systems that comply with OSHA regulations are essential for both nuclear power plants and facilities located near reactors. Such facilities require regular rooftop maintenance. However, in some scenarios, it becomes necessary to create an integrated fall protection solution that can function horizontally on inclines and vertically on towers or ladders.
Overhead systems are available to protect workers who operate above machinery. Additionally, temporary systems, including freestanding guardrail systems, are used for on/off maintenance jobs or where a permanent system cannot be installed. Pipe Rack Horizontal Lifeline systems are available in various forms and provide fall arrest protection to workers who are exposed to falls from great heights and must work on typically uneven and asymmetrical surfaces.
Rooftop-mounted solar energy panels are becoming increasingly popular, but they pose a potential hazard to maintenance personnel who work on them. These workers need to remove dust and particulates that can reduce the efficiency of solar energy collection.
As more solar panels are installed on a roof, the area available for walking may no longer be viable, exposing workers to fall hazards. To prevent accidents, workers who are exposed to an unprotected roof edge or fall hazards of four feet or more must be protected by roof edge railing. In cases where a guardrail is not possible, solutions for work at height include safe access systems such as crossover platforms and protection through horizontal lifelines and any or a variety of anchor points.
Workers who engage in activities related to clarifying, settling, and sediment tanks of wastewater treatment facilities are exposed to several hazards, including harmful chemical exposure, slips, trips, and falls. However, utilizing safe access solutions, work platforms, guardrails, and safety gates can help mitigate these risks. In some cases, active work restraint systems and fall arrest systems may also be necessary for work at heights.
It is essential to note that these environments are often corrosive and caustic, which can further compromise worker safety. To ensure the protection of workers, fall protection systems such as guardrails, anchors, lifelines, and rigid rail systems are typically made of stainless steel, hot-dipped galvanized, or hard-coat anodized materials.
Dams & Hydroelectric
Dams are impressive pieces of architecture that pose unique safety challenges for workers. These massive structures are designed to withstand extreme forces and endure harsh weather conditions, making ongoing maintenance and inspections critical. However, performing maintenance and inspections on dams is dangerous work and requires workers to be placed in precarious positions.
To ensure worker safety, it is important to use OSHA-compliant fall protection solutions that provide secure access to the backbone of hydroelectric power plants. When choosing arrest systems for work at height, it is essential to have rescue plans in place and to provide workers with proper training. Other fall protection solutions include Guardrails, Horizontal Lifelines, Rigid Rail, and Rigid Anchors.
The growing demand for renewable energy has led to a rise in construction activities for energy collection, storage, and transmission. These activities often include work-at-height routines related to general construction, steel erection, and loading and unloading, all of which is addressed through tried and tested passive, restraint, and arrest fall protection systems.
When it comes to wind turbine work at height fall protection solutions, the safety systems usually comprise of Vertical Lifelines and Ladder Systems, Fall Protection Anchors, and Horizontal Lifelines. The ladder structures inside a wind turbine make internal fall protection unique. These ladders are made from thin and lightweight aluminum, and special consideration needs to be given to the loads that they may incur in the event of a fall.
Fall protection systems must be anchored directly to the steel work on the top platform, which is remote from the aluminum ladder. Also, safety systems that incorporate a webbing strop to facilitate easy release and rescue in a fall are ideal.
Which solution is best for you?
Are you in charge of ensuring worker safety at a utility plant? If so, look no further than Flexible Lifeline Systems. Our team discusses your needs and concerns regarding regulatory compliance, conducts a safety audit, and creates a plan tailored to your specific situation. We offer numerous services, from design, engineering, and fabrication to installation, training, and ongoing support. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help keep your workers safe.