Whether your facility has recently suffered an accident or you’re taking a proactive approach to flatbed truck safety, here’s some good news: The safety equipment available today offers far more protection than hard hats and lifelines alone.
Here are five fall protection strategies to consider for improving flatbed truck safety at your facility or work site:
- Overhead Tarping Systems
The first step in preventing falls from flatbed trucks is to avoid having workers climb onto the trailer in the first place. An overhead tarping system provides a safer way to cover an entire flatbed trailer by eliminating the risks of standing or walking on the trailer itself.
The operator simply connects a tarp to the spreader bar, which is suspended from an overhead track. Using a powered winch system and hand-held control, it’s easy for the operator to spread the tarp across the entire flatbed without leaving the ground.
- Access Equipment
Platforms designed for flatbed trucks provide a safer work area and efficient access for securing, sampling and tarping loads. For maximum fall protection, handrail systems may be incorporated with flatbed loading access and tarping platforms.
The driver parks the truck between two platforms, which are then moved manually or mechanically into place against the sides of the flatbed trailer. Workers then walk up steps to reach the level of the trailer, instead of trying to climb onto a potentially slippery surface.
- Portable Handrail Systems
When workers need to stand on the flatbed itself, portable handrails help to prevent them from falling off the side onto the ground. When incorporated onto the flatbed trailer or adjacent to it, these handrail systems turn the flatbed into a guarded platform. While a person could still slip or trip on the flatbed surface, the rail and midrail would prevent a more serious accident.
- Safety Nets
Commonly used as a fall arrest solution, safety nets may be either temporary or permanently tied off to a wall. When used in accordance with OSHA standards, safety nets offer a barrier that prevents workers from hitting the floor if they fall from the flatbed.
- Harness Systems
When used in accordance with OSHA guidelines and standards, harness systems may offer another option for fall arrest. The harness, worn by the worker, is connected to a lifeline or lanyard that is secured to an anchor point. Depending on the height of the work area, such a system may be engineered to prevent the operator’s body from hitting the ground in the event of a fall.
Regardless of the flatbed fall protection strategy you choose, you need to make sure that drivers, operators and other workers know how to use the equipment properly. Have you provided the necessary training? Does your loading and unloading site carry the proper signage? To establish a successful safety solution, consider working with a trusted vendor to evaluate your needs and design the best flatbed safety system for your work site.
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