Loading platform for crude oil rail car

Loading Racks and Safety Cages: Top Three Benefits to Consider

Loading racks and safety cages help your employees stick to their schedules by providing quick and efficient OSHA- and MSHA-compliant fall protection for your tanker trucks, railcars and iso-tainers. Manufacturers like SafeRack even add a fourth rail for added fall protection, going above and beyond established standards. The racks and cages can be used with various gangway, ramp and platform options, ensuring there is a configuration that is right for your operation.

In 2015, falls once again headed up OSHA’s list of workplace injuries. Annually, one-half to three-quarters of a million workers are injured by falls with fatalities often listed in the thousands (there have already been 124 workplace fatalities from falls in 2016). While only a quarter to half of workplace falls are from a height, these falls account for an incredibly disproportionate number of the most serious injuries and fatalities. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, falls account for over 95 million lost workdays each year and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity.

In addition to losses directly associated with worker injuries, OSHA fines and citations can add up as well. And, if you think they were expensive before, in 2016 OSHA’s fines will be increasing over 80 percent. Further, given the way they pushed for the increase, it’s likely that they will be looking to use their new fee schedule by reducing the number of less-than-maximum penalties. In addition to citations, you will also have to pay for upgrading and fixing any deficiencies that were found, which often leads to disruptions in workflow and productivity.

If you’re still on the fence about whether to update your loading rack and safety cage system, consider these benefits:

Increase the Safety Net

While nothing can completely eliminate accidents, the number of employees injured from a fall while using properly installed and maintained safety racks is almost zero. The most common accidents when using the cages and racks are not falls from heights, but slips while accessing the rack or cage, and the improper use of the equipment (climbing over the bars instead of using the gate, failure to properly secure the gate, and so forth).

Compared to trucks’ side access ladders, the risks aren’t even comparable, especially when the employees are tasked with carrying equipment or taking samples. These risks are compounded exponentially when those samples are hazardous chemicals. Racks don’t just decrease the risk of falls from climbing; they also keep employees from having to balance on top of a potentially slippery truck or container while opening and closing the hatch.

If they do happen to slip, they simply fall into the cage. Along those same lines, if noxious fumes were to come up once the hatch were opened, workers could quickly and safely back away.

Enhance Your Worker Productivity

The more quickly workers can access the hatches atop rail cars or trucks, the faster the job gets done. But you don’t want to compromise safety for this need for speed. With a gangway system and safety cage, your employees can access the cars, trucks and containers faster than ever and increase their safety at the same time.

Not only are employees more productive while at work — their production goes up because they are at work. By decreasing the likelihood of worker injuries, you are increasing the chances that your best employees are going to be on the job.

Protect Against the Unexpected

Loading racks and safety cages can be quickly modified to shield your workers and hatches from the environment. Shielding your employees further reduces the chances of an injury and protects your products since an added shield, cover or canopy keeps environmental elements out of the equation. Whether it’s high winds, blowing sand or snow, Mother Nature will no longer slow your production, decrease your workers’ safety or contaminate the goods inside the car, truck or container.

Your safety solutions provider can work with you to customize a loading and unloading process tailored to the specific needs of your operation. From standardized racks and cages for uniform loading and unloading, to specialized equipment that can accommodate multi-level trucks and rail cars, your vendor will be able to suggest solutions to increase safety, productivity and protection from the elements.

Remember, meeting OSHA and MSHA requirements is great, but the ultimate goal of any safety program is the safety and well being of your employees. To that end, make sure your cages and racks have easy-to-use features, are designed and built in the US to meet domestic safety and manufacturing standards, and are backed up by a reputable company who stands behind their products.