Increasing the quantity of goods moving through your organization’s warehousing and distribution centers–and the speed with which these items move through your supply chain–is vital to improving the bottom line. That said, from a safety perspective, ramped up activity in your distribution centers also increases your organization’s exposure to potential losses. If you ask a seasoned warehousing EHS professional for a list of the most costly potential hazards their employees face, chances are good forklift accidents will top the list. The OSHA statistics bear out this claim; warehouses and distribution centers report 100 fork-truck related fatalities and 95,000 lift truck injuries each year. What these same safety professionals tend to overlook is the potential lost time injuries and fatalities associated with fall hazards.
Fall protection for railcar loading and unloading applications is more complicated than meets the eye. You won’t see workers toiling away at impressive heights since most railcars are around 15 feet high. And to the untrained eye, rail yards and rail sidings appear less crowded than the manufacturing areas inside industrial facilities, so one might think these types of installations are easy. That said, fall protection is an absolute necessity for railcar applications, and the design and installation of these fall arrest systems requires a thorough understanding of the railroad industry.
If you have ever waded through the sea of OSHA fall protection regulations, you may have noticed references to a “qualified person.” What does this term mean, and what are the differences between a competent and qualified person? And from a design perspective, is the use of a qualified person enough to enough to ensure the safety of a fall protection system?
If you have spent time digging into literature on fall protection or plowed through OSHA standards, you’ve probably seen references to the term maximum arresting force, but what does this concept mean and why is it important?
Maximum arresting force (also known as max arresting force or MAF) is nothing more than the peak dynamic force exerted on the body during fall arrest. OSHA standard 1926.502(d)(16)(ii) states that the maximum arresting force for a worker in a body harness weighing up to 310 lbs shall not be exposed to a maximum arresting force in excess of 1,800 lbs (8 kN).
Most folks think lifelines when it comes to fall protection, but if you quiz them about how these systems work or when they are good fits for an application, they come up short. So what is a cable-based fall protection system, and what are the pros and cons of lifeline systems?
Fall protection education has been a core company value here since our founding in 1994. Most of our clients appreciate the need for fall protection, but they don’t always understand the different approaches to fall protection or why we recommend one system style over another.
For example, many folks automatically equate fall arrest with cable-style horizontal lifelines, but limited fall clearance applications are better suited for rigid beam rail systems because they minimize deflection. It’s one thing to hear a fall safety specialist make these types of statements, but quite another to visualize the differences between the two approaches.