Fall Arrest and Flammable Liquids – The Recipe for Disaster

Fall arrest and flammable liquids together are an accident waiting to happen. Wearing fall arrest gear, a worker may not be able to escape a fire or explosion should one occur. This is where another look at fall prevention can save the day and employees.

There is some concern within the liquids terminal industry that because tank trucks and rail cars come in different configurations there’s a possibility for inconsistent use of guardrails on loading platforms. Until all transportation vehicles have uniform configurations, solutions that are currently in place in the industry still need to be flexible enough to allow workers to use the most appropriate fall protection systems for their unique operational requirements.

In an instance where guardrails don’t line up, fall prevention or some form of protection will need to be employed. But when it comes to flammable liquids there are several extra precautions that need to be applied. OSHA states “safety belts and lanyards should not be used when loading flammable liquids because the employee should be able to move freely in case of a fire.” So if your business deals with flammable liquids, there may not be one simple solution for fall prevention/protection especially since tank trucks and rail cars that are loaded without using fall protection can leave workers exposed to other, potentially fatal hazards.

This is a major reason why job duties need to be evaluated on a regular basis to determine what type of fall prevention is best to replace fall protection when dealing with flammable liquids. 

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