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HVAC Fall Protection Systems

Sep 30, 2016 5:58:51 AM

Commercial and industrial grade HVAC units keep personnel and sensitive electronic equipment cool, but maintenance on units taller than 4 feet requires fall protection per OSHA 1910.  Our recent installation of HVAC guardrail systems at a local airport illustrates the benefits of partnering with a fall protection company that can provide custom, application specific solutions.

From the picture below, you can see there is no safe way to access the top of the units.  Before the guardrail system’s installation, accessing the top of the HVAC system required scaling a 12-foot ladder carrying heavy tools, and then stepping to the top of the unit.


Some maintenance is performed at ground level, but the top of the HVAC unit is a work platform with unprotected leading edges.  And because the working height is greater than 4 feet, some means of fall protection is required per OSHA 1910.


One of the challenges presented by HVAC system fall protection is working with different manufacturer sizes—and contending with pipe, valve, and conduit obstructions.  All of these factors point toward a custom designed fall protection solution for each installation.


From this angle, you can also see that the width or distance between the base of each unit and the edge of the concrete slab of the concrete slab varies.


DFP engineers designed a modular system that allows for the removal of mid-rails to service sections of the unit from ground level.


The finished design includes ladder access, complete enclosure of the top work platform, and a toe board system to prevent tools from falling and striking personnel below.  If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll note that on this side of the unit, we had enough width to anchor the system with portable base plates.


An access platform and swing gate protects workers as they transition from the ladder to the top of the HVAC system.


On this side, space limitations required the anchoring of the receivers to the concrete slab.   Each section of the guardrail connects to the next with Kee clamps secured with set screws.  Rails that may obstruct maintenance operations are temporarily removable.


The top of the work area is protected by 1.5” diameter steel guardrail with a top rail height at 42” and a mid-rail height of 21”per OSHA regulations.

The size and configuration of commercial HVAC systems vary widely, so these types of applications typically require a custom solution.    Whether your HVAC equipment is at ground level or located on a rooftop, we can design and install a fall protection solution to keep your personnel safe and your facility in compliance with all OSHA regulations.  To learn more about fall protection or to request a site visit, contact the safety experts at Diversified Fall Protection for further assistance.