Silos and Towers

Fall Protection & Fall Arrest Systems for Silos and Towers

Safe maintenance and operation of grain silos and bulk powder storage towers used in the agricultural and mining industries requires a comprehensive fall prevention strategy, which includes the proper mix of fall protection equipment, a rescue and descent plan, personnel training, and partnering with a fall protection company that appreciates the unique nature of your facility’s access points and potential fall hazards.

Silos and Towers
Silos and Towers
Silos and Towers
Silos and Towers
Silos and Towers
Silos and Towers
Silos and Towers
Silos and Towers
Silos and Towers
Silos and Towers
Silos and Towers
Silos and Towers

We are a complete turnkey provider of fall protection systems designed for the agricultural and mining industries and have the years of design and installation experience in these market sectors.  Contact us for expert assistance with your fall arrest, fall restraint and fall protection requirements.

Design Considerations

Silo and Tower Fall Protection Design Considerations

The vertical storage characteristics of grain elevators, 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.

OSHA Regulations

  • General
    • 1926.501(a)
      'General.'
    • 1926.501(a)(1)
      This section sets forth requirements for employers to provide fall protection systems. All fall protection required by this section shall conform to the criteria set forth in 1926.502 of this subpart.
  • Guardrail
    • 1926.502(b)
      'Guardrail systems.' Guardrail systems and their use shall comply with the following provisions:
    • 1926.502(b)(1)
      Top edge height of top rails, or equivalent guardrail system members, shall be 42 inches (1.1 m) plus or minus 3 inches (8 cm) above the walking/working level. When conditions warrant, the height of the top edge may exceed the 45-inch height, provided the guardrail system meets all other criteria of this paragraph.
    • 1926.502(b)(2)(i)
      Midrails, when used, shall be installed at a height midway between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking/working level.
    • 1926.502(b)(2)(iv)
      Other structural members (such as additional midrails and architectural panels) shall be installed such that there are no openings in the guardrail system that are more than 19 inches (.5 m) wide.
    • 1926.502(b)(3)
      Guardrail systems shall be capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 200 pounds (890 N) applied within 2 inches (5.1 cm) of the top edge, in any outward or downward direction, at any point along the top edge.
    • 1926.502(b)(4)
      When the 200 pound (890 N) test load specified in paragraph (b)(3) of this section is applied in a downward direction, the top edge of the guardrail shall not deflect to a height less than 39 inches (1.0 m) above the walking/working level. Guardrail system components selected and constructed in accordance with the Appendix B to subpart M of this part will be deemed to meet this requirement.
    • 1926.502(b)(5)
      Midrails, screens, mesh, intermediate vertical members, solid panels, and equivalent structural members shall be capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 150 pounds (666 N) applied in any downward or outward direction at any point along the midrail or other member.
    • 1926.502(b)(11)
      When guardrail systems are used at holes, they shall be erected on all unprotected sides or edges of the hole.
    • 1926.502(b)(13)
      When guardrail systems are used around holes which are used as points of access (such as ladderways), they shall be provided with a gate, or be so offset that a person cannot walk directly into the hole.
    • 1926.502(j)
      'Protection from falling objects.' Falling object protection shall comply with the following provisions:
    • 1926.502(j)(1)
      Toeboards, when used as falling object protection, shall be erected along the edge of the overhead walking/working surface for a distance sufficient to protect employees below.
    • 1926.502(j)(2)
      Toeboards shall be capable of withstanding, without failure, a force of at least 50 pounds (222 N) applied in any downward or outward direction at any point along the toeboard.
    • 1926.502(j)(3)
      Toeboards shall be a minimum of 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) in vertical height from their top edge to the level of the walking/working surface. They shall have not more than 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) clearance above the walking/working surface. They shall be solid or have openings not over 1 inch (2.5 cm) in greatest dimension.
    • 1926.502(j)(5)
      Guardrail systems, when used as falling object protection, shall have all openings small enough to prevent passage of potential falling objects.
  • Vertical Lifelines
    • 1926.502(d)
      'Personal fall arrest systems.' Personal fall arrest systems and their use shall comply with the provisions set forth below. Effective January 1, 1998, body belts are not acceptable as part of a personal fall arrest system. Note: The use of a body belt in a positioning device system is acceptable and is regulated under paragraph (e) of this section.
    • 1926.502(d)(9)
      Lanyards and vertical lifelines shall have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN).
    • 1926.502(d)(12)
      Self-retracting lifelines and lanyards which automatically limit free fall distance to 2 feet (0.61 m) or less shall be capable of sustaining a minimum tensile load of 3,000 pounds (13.3 kN) applied to the device with the lifeline or lanyard in the fully extended position.
    • 1926.502(d)(13)
      Self-retracting lifelines and lanyards which do not limit free fall distance to 2 feet (0.61 m) or less, ripstitch lanyards, and tearing and deforming lanyards shall be capable of sustaining a minimum tensile load of 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN) applied to the device with the lifeline or lanyard in the fully extended position.
  • Ladders
    • 1926.1051(a)
      A stairway or ladder shall be provided at all personnel points of access where there is a break in elevation of 19 inches (48 cm) or more, and no ramp, runway, sloped embankment, or personnel hoist is provided.
    • 1926.1053(a)
      General. The following requirements apply to all ladders as indicated, including job-made ladders.
    • 1926.1053(a)(1)
      Ladders shall be capable of supporting the following loads without failure:
    • 1926.1053(a)(1)(iii)
      Each Fixed ladder: At least two loads of 250 pounds (114 kg) each, concentrated between any two consecutive attachments (the number and position of additional concentrated loads of 250 pounds (114 kg) each, determined from anticipated usage of the ladder, shall also be included), plus anticipated loads caused by ice buildup, winds, rigging, and impact loads resulting from the use of ladder safety devices. Each step or rung shall be capable of supporting a single concentrated load of a least 250 pounds (114 kg) applied in the middle of the step or rung. Ladders built in conformance with the applicable provisions of appendix A will be deemed to meet this requirement.
    • 1926.1053(a)(2)
      Ladder rungs, cleats, and steps shall be parallel, level, and uniformly spaced when the ladder is in position for use.
    • 1926.1053(a)(3)(i)
      Rungs, cleats, and steps of portable ladders (except as provided below) and fixed ladders (including individual-rung/step ladders) shall be spaced not less than 10 inches (25 cm) apart, nor more than 14 inches (36 cm) apart, as measured between center lines of the rungs, cleats and steps.
    • 1926.1053(a)(6)(i)
      The rungs and steps of fixed metal ladders manufactured after March 15, 1991, shall be corrugated, knurled, dimpled, coated with skid-resistant material, or otherwise treated to minimize slipping.
    • 1926.1053(a)(18)
      Fixed ladders shall be provided with cages, wells, ladder safety devices, or self-retracting lifelines where the length of climb is less than 24 feet (7.3 m) but the top of the ladder is at a distance greater than 24 feet (7.3 m) above lower levels.
    • 1926.1053(a)(19)
      Where the total length of a climb equals or exceeds 24 feet (7.3 m), fixed ladders shall be equipped with one of the following:
    • 1926.1053(a)(19)(i)
      Ladder safety devices; or
    • 1926.1053(a)(19)(ii)
      Self-retracting lifelines, and rest platforms at intervals not to exceed 150 feet (45.7 m); or
    • 1926.1053(a)(19)(iii)
      A cage or well, and multiple ladder sections, each ladder section not to exceed 50 feet (15.2 m) in length. Ladder sections shall be offset from adjacent sections, and landing platforms shall be provided at maximum intervals of 50 feet (15.2 m).
    • 1926.1053(a)(20)
      Cages for fixed ladders shall conform to all of the following:
    • 1926.1053(a)(20)(iii)
      Cages shall extend not less than 27 inches (66 cm), or more than 30 inches (76 cm) from the centerline of the step or rung (excluding the flare at the bottom of the cage), and shall not be less than 27 inches (68 cm) in width;
    • 1926.1053(a)(20)(vii)
      The bottom of the cage shall be at a level not less than 7 feet (2.1 m) nor more than 8 feet (2.4 m) above the point of access to the bottom of the ladder. The bottom of the cage shall be flared not less than 4 inches (10 cm) all around within the distance between the bottom horizontal band and the next higher band;
    • 1926.1053(a)(20)(viii)
      The top of the cage shall be a minimum of 42 inches (1.1 m) above the top of the platform, or the point of access at the top of the ladder, with provision for access to the platform or other point of access.
    • 1926.1053(a)(22)
      Ladder safety devices, and related support systems, for fixed ladders shall conform to all of the following:
    • 1926.1053(a)(22)(ii)
      They shall permit the employee using the device to ascend or descend without continually having to hold, push, or pull any part of the device, leaving both hands free for climbing;
    • 1926.1053(a)(22)(iii)
      They shall be activated within 2 feet (.61 m) after a fall occurs, and limit the descending velocity of an employee to 7 feet/sec. (2.1 m/sec.) or less;
    • 1926.1053(a)(22)(iv)
      The connection between the carrier or lifeline and the point of attachment to the body belt or harness shall not exceed 9 inches (23 cm) in length.
    • 1926.1053(a)(23)
      The mounting of ladder safety devices for fixed ladders shall conform to the following:
    • 1926.1053(a)(23)(i)
      Mountings for rigid carriers shall be attached at each end of the carrier, with intermediate mountings, as necessary, spaced along the entire length of the carrier, to provide the strength necessary to stop employees' falls;
    • 1926.1053(a)(23)(ii)
      Mountings for flexible carriers shall be attached at each end of the carrier. When the system is exposed to wind, cable guides for flexible carriers shall be installed at a minimum spacing of 25 feet (7.6 m) and maximum spacing of 40 feet (12.2 m) along the entire length of the carrier, to prevent wind damage to the system.
    • 1926.1053(a)(23)(iii)
      The design and installation of mountings and cable guides shall not reduce the design strength of the ladder.
    • 1926.1053(a)(24)
      The side rails of through or side-step fixed ladders shall extend 42 inches (1.1 m) above the top of the access level or landing platform served by the ladder. For a parapet ladder, the access level shall be the roof if the parapet is cut to permit passage through the parapet; if the parapet is continuous, the access level shall be the top of the parapet.
    • 1926.1053(a)(27)
      Individual-rung/step ladders, except those used where their access openings are covered with manhole covers or hatches, shall extend at least 42 inches (1.1 m) above an access level or landing platform either by the continuation of the rung spacings as horizontal grab bars or by providing vertical grab bars that shall have the same lateral spacing as the vertical legs of the rungs.
    • 1926.1053(b)(5)(iii)
      Fixed ladders shall be used at a pitch no greater than 90 degrees from the horizontal, as measured to the back side of the ladder.
    • 1926.1060(a)
      The employer shall provide a training program for each employee using ladders and stairways, as necessary. The program shall enable each employee to recognize hazards related to ladders and stairways, and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed to minimize these hazards.
    • 1926.1060(a)(1)
      The employer shall ensure that each employee has been trained by a competent person in the following areas, as applicable:
    • 1926.1060(a)(1)(i)
      The nature of fall hazards in the work area;
    • 1926.1060(a)(1)(ii)
      The correct procedures for erecting, maintaining, and disassembling the fall protection systems to be used;
    • 1926.1060(a)(1)(iii)
      The proper construction, use, placement, and care in handling of all stairways and ladders;
    • 1926.1060(a)(1)(iv)
      The maximum intended load-carrying capacities of ladders and
    • 1926.1060(a)(1)(v)
      The standards contained in this subpart.
    • 1926.1060(b)
      Retraining shall be provided for each employee as necessary so that the employee maintains the understanding and knowledge acquired through compliance with this section.

Did You Know?

Anytime that work is being performed on a roof that has a pitch of 4:12 or higher, fall protection must be used at all times?