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Sometimes one size fits all....but not in fall protection! Trucks & busses – trains & planes

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For many years falls have been one of the leading causes of death in the workplace.
When I say the words “Fall Protection” - What did you think of?
A harness, a lanyard or maybe an anchor point?

I think of these questions;
1. What are you doing?
2. Why are you doing it?
3. How often are you doing it?
4. What are you currently doing for fall protection?
5. Is there a way we can do it safer?
Today I want to write briefly about one often overlooked need for fall protection and what I believe is the best solution for it. The application is vehicle maintenance. Everything from school busses, muni busses, garbage trucks, dump trucks, boom trucks, tanker trucks, big rigs, box vans, and even fire trucks. Also planes including private planes, corporate jets, commercial airliners and military aircraft. Many of these require people climbing up and on them for routine maintenance.

Cal OSHA General Industry Safety orders Subchapter 7 section 3210(b) talks about elevated locations and the need for guardrails (passive fall protection) or other means of fall protection.

The actual section reads-
3210(b) Other Elevated Locations.
The unprotected sides of elevated work locations that are not buildings or building structures where an employee is exposed to a fall of 4 feet or more shall be provided with guardrails.

Cable Horizontal Lifeline (HLL) systems are often considered for this application. These are engineered systems enabling multiple people to work off of the same cable. Cable HLL’s have their place and there is nothing better for the right application, but I do not believe this is the right application.
Three issues that will come up with the engineers are-
1. End anchor strength. A fall in the middle of a cable will geometrically generate more force on the end anchors.
2. The force put into the building will be a lateral load - buildings are built for vertical loads.
3. Cables will flex and create a greater fall distance with a greater chance for injury.

Rigid Lifelines or Rigid Rail Systems are, in my opinion, the best solution for this application. They are engineered systems allowing multiple people on one system. These can be monorails or straight line systems (the only configuration in which a cable HLL is able to be installed). Rigid rail can also be set up in a “bridge” layout with 2 parallel runways using a bridge running the length of the runways. This will give the absolute best coverage over both the X and Y axis above the vehicle. Said another way – we are covering every square inch of working surface while being tied off directly above the work location.

I have attached a brief video showing a test comparing both the cable HLL and a Rigid Rail System. This test was done by Spanco the leader in Rigid LifeLines for over 10 years.

If you would like us to come look at your application and give you some ideas for a solution we will be happy to work with you, your management team and even your workman’s comp carrier.

Andy Bull
President – Co CEO
CH Bull Co
Safety Is No Accident
Cell phone 415-716-5583
Direct office phone 650-837-8406

Posted 1/26/12