Improving Rail Car Fall Prevention With Minimal Downtime
A leading petrochemical manufacturer had a complicated problem that involved maintaining production efficiency while bolstering fall prevention and worker safety.
The Problem: A Need For Strengthened Rail Car Fall Prevention Under Tight Time Constraints
In order to keep its workers safe and maintain its OSHA Voluntary Protection Program STAR certification status, the company needed to strengthen its rail car fall prevention mechanisms.
Many of its loading and unloading stations had been designed in the 1970s and were aging mazes of catwalks, process piping, loading arms, work stations, skids, hoses and access platforms. This overcrowded loading environment posed numerous risks to worker safety.
Additionally, the manufacturer could not simply shut down the facility until a safer solution had been implemented. Customer commitments dictated that the loading area could only be shut down for a half a day at a time, at most. There was also a limited amount of space for new or upgraded safety solutions to be installed.
Moreover, the company needed to account for an aging workforce and faced the challenge of keeping its project costs low. After a failed attempt, the chances of a successful upgrade seemed low.
The Solution: A Comprehensive Rail Car Loading Fall Prevention System
The petrochemical manufacturer approached Carbis Solutions and requested a design for a fall prevention solution that could meet its highly complex needs, while not disrupting throughput during installation.
Carbis Solutions’ engineers went to work and began evaluating the site and its unique challenges. The company needed a design that not only considered the complicated fall prevention upgrade requests, but also accounted for the process of accessing the tops of rail cars and the actions workers needed to take while on top of the rail cars. Carbis’ engineers also needed to consider where loading and unloading equipment would be stored and the ranges of motion workers, especially aging workers, would need to take to access the equipment.
After careful analysis, Carbis Solutions’ engineers proposed a plan for a fully integrated elevating platform solution involving loading arm replacement and an elevating safety cage system that surrounds the existing crash box on top of liquid rail cars. The crash box would be surrounded by a top rail, mid rail and bottom rail to close all gaps larger than 19 inches.
Due to a pre-existing agreement with a leading loading arm manufacturer, the petrochemical company was very reluctant to authorize new loading arm construction from Carbis Solutions. However, after months of unsuccessful attempts to get its loading arms modified to help prevent falls and increase worker safety, the petrochemical company asked Carbis Solutions to implement the proposed safety system, including the new loading arms.
The Result: Strengthened Fall Prevention Delivered On Time And Within Budget
Despite the project’s complexities, the new fall prevention system was delivered on time and according to the petrochemical manufacturer’s budget constraints. Production did not need to be shut down, which enabled the company to continue to meet customer demand during construction.
The petrochemical company now provides a safer environment for its employees to load and unload rail cars efficiently. The risk of hazardous and costly injuries due to falls has been reduced.
Not only has the company strengthened fall prevention and increased worker safety, but the project’s success allows the company to continue its OSHA Voluntary Protection Program STAR certification status.