Having the right fall prevention equipment in place is essential for preventing injuries and fatalities due to workplace accidents. When your rail cars feature dangerous offset crashboxes/operator platforms, it is even more important to implement safety solutions.
A crashbox/operator platform is the built-in railing area that surrounds the hatch opening or valves on a rail car. An opening for workers to walk through may or may not be centered within the crashbox/operator platform. When the opening is not centered, the crashbox/operator platform is considered offset.
In order to minimize the risks associated with offset crashboxes/operator platforms, you must first understand why they are dangerous, and then learn what workplace safety solutions to implement.
The Dangers Of Offset Crashboxes/Operator Platforms
When a crashbox/operator platform is offset, working conditions become more complicated for employees. Before accessing a hatch or valve, workers must line up the gangway with the opening of the crashbox/operator platform so an operator is able to walk down to the top of the rail car.
The worker who spots a crashbox/operator platform is typically on the ground, walking alongside the rail car. Some employees may keep sight of a mark or ladder on a car to guide them as they line up the crashbox/operator platform with a gangway. However, spotting is not a perfect science.
Employees frequently experience difficulty determining how to spot a crashbox/operator platform safely. Is it better to spot the box with a gangway or with a safety cage?
Workers must be able to access the top of a car safely. This is the first priority, and it requires that the gangway be aligned with the crashbox/operator platform opening. The second priority is to accomplish a job without falling off the car, which is why the safety cage must be spotted correctly.
When workers must choose between spotting a crashbox/operator platform with a gangway or safety cage, the cage is often neglected. This not only interferes with the loading and unloading process, but it puts workers at risk of falling.
Safety Solutions For Offset Crashboxes/Operator Platforms
Your industrial safety plan should include detailed instructions for employees working with offset crashboxes/operator platforms as well as an adequate system of safety equipment.
The best solution for loading and unloading cars with offset crashboxes/operator platforms is to use an elevating safety cage that offers more coverage. In particular, you should implement a cage that provides complete fall protection for operators while working on top of rail cars.
By focusing on workplace safety, you create an environment where employees feel valued and protected. Confidence in their working conditions helps many employees work more productively, which benefits your business’s bottom line.
Plus, implementing safety solutions reduces your company’s liability and improves your OSHA compliance. Not only do you avoid costly penalties, but your safety equipment may prevent serious injuries or even save an employee’s life.
Want to learn more about crashbox/operator platform challenges and fall prevention solutions? Watch our free webinar on demand for strategies on safer rail car loading and unloading.