Farm Fall Protection Design Considerations
Many of the fall hazards presented on a farm are found in non-dedicated work areas. For example, tractors and combines are notorious for break downs in the field. Unlike designated work areas such as barns which may have permanently installed fall protection systems to protect workers as they climb on top of combines to perform maintenance and repair tasks, a field repair requires the use of a mobile boom arm fall protection system attached to secondary vehicle such as a flat-bed truck.
The processing operations carried out on farms require fall protection systems as well. The vertical storage characteristics of grain silos and storage towers can lead to the build-up of pressure and heat, which left unchecked, may result in an explosion. Silos and towers utilize fans and related equipment designed to keep the stored material from settling. Maintenance personnel use ladder systems to monitor the moisture, heat, gas, and pressure levels from the top of the silo. In addition to the fall hazards presented by the ladder system, service personnel may fall from the top of the silo, or through the access panel into the storage area itself. Although most silos have internal escape hatches at their base, workers can suffocate attempting their own rescue. Explosion risks, fall hazards, and confined space issues combine to make silos and storage towers extremely dangerous work areas.
Conveyors used to fill grain silos present additional fall hazards. Employees must have a safe means to access elevated conveyor systems as well as fall protection available while they perform tasks such as clearing clogs and jams. In many instances, a permanent ladder system equipped with a vertical life is used to reach the conveyor and a horizontal lifeline is installed so workers can safely traverse the conveyor system.
Truck loading presents yet another set of fall hazards on the farm. Fall protection for loading areas typically consists of rigid beam fall arrest systems, or L, U, or T-style gallows that have been equipped with horizontal lifelines. Special care must be taken to ensure that falls from trucks can be arrested before a worker comes into contact with the surface below. The typical trailer height (12’ or 4’) must be taken into consideration to design a system that can safely arrest falls without allowing workers to strike the ground. If the loading area is not a concrete pad, calculations must be made to provide a foundation that will support the fall arrest system in the event of a fall.
DFP has years of experience designing and installing fall protection systems specifically tailored for each operation on the farm. Our understanding of your farm’s unique access points and fall hazards, combined with our turnkey approach to OSHA compliant fall protection will keep both your facility and employees safe.