There is no one “best solution” to all railroad car and train siding fall protection hazards. Each situation is unique, requiring a site assessment and an engineered solution to meet your specific needs. Individual railroad companies have their own specifications, and the configuration of each rail yard, as well as the materials moving through these areas varies widely. A fall protection system designed to accommodate the storage and servicing of stationary rolling stock needs to provide different coverage from fall protection equipment installed for loading and unloading grain or coal. Industrial rail sidings found at factories, in underground mines, outside quarries, servicing wharves, foundries, refineries, and warehouses each in turn need their own engineered solution to protect railcar workers from falls.
Although elevated catwalk and gangway systems, fixed platforms, and climbing up the back or side ladder are all common, from a best practices standpoint, use of an elevated platform with a fold down gangway that allows an individual to be elevated to the height of the top of the railcar is preferred. Railroad personnel are protected by a guardrail while attaching their SRL and walking down the gangway to access the top of the railcar.
Railcar load and unload facilities typically require an overhead fall protection system. On taller, railcar facilities where working heights allow, permanent horizontal lifelines, rigid beam systems, and gallows style fall protection systems are common. In applications where a gallows style system is under consideration, the depth of the water table, as well as the condition and compaction of the soil must be assessed to ensure an adequate foundation to support the weight of the system. For site-specific maintenance, or temporary railcar access, a portable fall protection system may also be utilized. Regardless of the system, care must also be taken to specify materials that are appropriate for use with the materials commonly found in the yard (e.g., chlorine, acids, etc).
Our years of experience in the railroad and railcar industry will help us implement a turnkey fall protection system that keeps your employees safe and your facility compliance with all OSHA regulations.