Safer Cement Production through Portable Fall Protection

Many different industrial and construction tasks require workers to perform at heights that can pose serious fall hazards. Despite the looming dangers of working at height, many workers will still avoid using a fall protection system. One of the most common reasons that workers do not use fall protection is that they find the systems restrictive or improperly positioned for effective use. If the fall protection is a nuisance for workers, they are significantly less likely to use it. This is especially true when workers need fall protection for equipment that’s constantly changing location. One safety manager at a cement plant had this problem and Rigid Lifelines™ had the solution.

The process of cement production is messy and involved from start to finish. Millions of tons of limestone are mined from quarries throughout North America every year and one of the most common uses for limestone is cement production. Cement production requires the limestone to be moved from the quarry to storage bins and then the manufacturing floor. During manufacturing, the limestone and other minerals undergo a grinding, firing, and milling process until the cement is ready to be shipped via flat bed truck and railcar to different retail locations. Truckers need to tarp flatbed loads and test railcar hoppers to ensure that the cement is ready for transport. Due to the dusty nature of cement, both flatbed trucks and railcars need to have regular cleaning and maintenance. While workers are performing those tasks, they are being exposed to dangerous heights anywhere between four and fourteen feet. And without the proper equipment, workers could experience a fall that may result in serious injury or death.

In 2012, a major North American cement manufacturer recognized that hazard when a worker performing flatbed maintenance experienced a fall and injuries at one of their plant locations. Other manufacturing branches were notified about the incident and encouraged to take proactive steps to integrate effective fall protection into their shipping and loading bays. Although many of the production plants had a fall protection system in place, many workers would avoid using the system because it was either inaccessible or inconvenient. Once the safety manager at the mid-western production plant identified why workers weren’t using the systems, he decided to find a different form of fall protection.

Prior to using Rigid Lifelines, this facility had been using a self-retracting lanyard (also known as an SRL) that was attached to a single anchorage point for fall protection. Often times, workers who were involved with shipping and receiving would complain that the system was either inaccessible for their location or limited their movement as they were trying to work. Once the safety manager realized that having a single anchorage point was making it difficult for his employees to be effective, he decided to contact the local industrial equipment distributor to learn about new fall protection solutions. By working with the knowledgeable distribution staff, he decided to purchase the newest product from Rigid Lifelines: The Griffin™ Portable Fall Protection system.

As soon as it was installed in the loading bays, the safety manager noticed an immediate change in employee patterns with wearing and using fall protection. After a mere two months of using the Griffin, the safety manager began hearing about how it’s portability made it easy and quick to have fall protection over equipment that was difficult to access or in an unusual location. The Griffin allowed workers to maneuver around the entire length of a flatbed without repositioning anchorages or influencing the way they performed their tasks.

The long runway length of the Griffin enables workers to move anywhere on the flatbed while still having their anchorage directly overhead. When the SRL is directly overhead, a worker can virtually eliminate the possibility of experiencing a swing fall. And being able to move the Griffin to practically any location allows workers to have a long span of fall protection almost anywhere. If workers can have a continuous area of coverage, they will be able to reduce the possibility of swing fall, unlike using single anchorage points.

Employees love the Griffin because it’s easy to move and easy to use. Either a forklift or pickup truck can transport the Griffin to any location. Leveling components are located in the support base for convenience and efficiency. And the Griffin’s portability is powerful because it allows for seamless integration into unusual areas where employees are working at height. Even without fall protection training, most workers find the Griffin system simple and quick to incorporate into their routine. When fall protection systems are convenient and intuitive like the Griffin, every worker will find it easier to implement a safer workplace attitude.

Box Header: How to Avoid a Swing Fall

Workers are at a much higher risk for having a swing fall when a single anchorage location is used as the attachment point for a deceleration device. The risk for swing fall is higher with single anchorage points because the deceleration device is not able to follow the worker and cannot remain directly above the worker’s head. In order to reduce swing falls, it’s very important that the deceleration device remains at an angle between 0° and 30° from where the worker is standing to where the deceleration device is attached. Being within a 30° angle of an overhead attachment point is critical when it comes to minimizing the potential for a swing fall. Thanks to portable systems like the Griffin, it’s easier than ever for workers to have full fall protection coverage in unusual locations during vehicle maintenance.

External Links and References:

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