Remember to inspect vertical-rail safety

by on February 14, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

It would be easy in safety audits to forget to check vertical-rail fall protection systems. After all, the rails may just fade away into everyday scenery.

But if there’s any damage or changes to your vertical rail, serious injuries or worse could ensue. And that’s especially true if the damage results in a worker’s safety line detaching from the rail.

In one case …
Here’s an example of a close call: A pipe fitter was working at a Department of Energy site near Idaho Falls, ID. He was near the top of a 40-foot fixed ladder on the side of a million-gallon water storage tank.

Suddenly, the top rail section of the vertical-rail fall protection tubing separated from the main vertical rail. The worker was tied off to the main vertical rail that came loose.

Luckily, he was holding onto the top rail section at that moment. The worker was able to reattach his safety line to the top rail and climb to safety.

Here are some keys to remember:

  • include vertical rails in your periodic inspections
  • remind maintenance to keep vertical rails a regular part of their maintenance routine, and
  • in training, go over with workers what a damaged vertical rail may look like and instruct them to report anything wrong as soon as possible.

Note: If a worker recognizes a damaged vertical rail while they’re tied off to it, remind them to try attaching their line to a sturdier rail. Then, instead of continuing work, they should report that the rail needs repair.

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