Silos and Towers

Fall Protection and Fall Arrest Systems for Silos and Towers

Industrial silos and towers used for bulk materials storage present a number of fall protection and confined space hazards to personnel charged with their maintenance, inspection, and repair.  Workers climbing from the ground level to access monitoring instrumentation and loading conveyors located at the top of the silo or tower and personnel charged with performing maintenance inside the storage area require comprehensive fall protection and confined space and rescue systems.  Partnering with a fall protection company that understands the fall hazards and confined space issues presented by bulk materials storage towers is vital to keeping your employees safe and your facility in compliance with all OSHA safety regulations.

Ladder cages provide safe means of entry and exit on the top of a silo
A Uni-Trak system provides operators range of motion to perform maintenance safely on top of a silo
Ladder cages provide safe means of entry and exit on the top of a silo
A Uni-Trak system provides operators range of motion to perform maintenance safely on top of a silo
Ladder cages provide safe means of entry and exit on the top of a silo
A Uni-Trak system provides operators range of motion to perform maintenance safely on top of a silo
Ladder cages provide safe means of entry and exit on the top of a silo
A Uni-Trak system provides operators range of motion to perform maintenance safely on top of a silo

We are a complete turnkey provider of fall protection systems designed for bulk material storage silos and towers and have the years of design and installation experience in this market sector.  Contact us for expert assistance with your fall arrest, fall restraint and fall protection requirements.

Design Considerations

Industrial Silo and Bulk Storage Tower Design Considerations

The vertical storage characteristics of industrial silos and bulk 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

  • Personal Fall Arrest Systems
    • 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)(16)
      Personal fall arrest systems, when stopping a fall, shall:
    • 1926.502(d)(16)(ii)
      limit maximum arresting force on an employee to 1,800 pounds (8 kN) when used with a body harness;
    • 1926.502(d)(16)(iii)
      be rigged such that an employee can neither free fall more than 6 feet (1.8 m), nor contact any lower level;
    • 1926.502(d)(16)(iv)
      bring an employee to a complete stop and limit maximum deceleration distance an employee travels to 3.5 feet (1.07 m); and,
    • 1926.502(d)(16)(v)
      have sufficient strength to withstand twice the potential impact energy of an employee free falling a distance of 6 feet (1.8 m), or the free fall distance permitted by the system, whichever is less.
  • 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.
  • SPA
    • 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)(15)
      Anchorages used for attachment of personal fall arrest equipment shall be independent of any anchorage being used to support or suspend platforms and capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN) per employee attached, or shall be designed, installed, and used as follows:
    • 1926.502(d)(15)(i)
      as part of a complete personal fall arrest system which maintains a safety factor of at least two; and
    • 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.

Did You Know?

In general Industry, any leading edge that is four feet or higher than the surface below must be protected from fall hazards?