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Each of us at Standfast has been asked at one time or another about our competition in the tank-truck fall protection market. Most times these questions concern handrail systems, however we are occasionally asked about cable systems, also known as bi-line systems. Seemingly the lesser-known alternative and certainly at the very bottom of the fall protection hierarchy, bi-line systems are, at best, a very questionable option for providing safety and protection to the most valuable resource any trucking company has: its drivers.
Bi-line systems are basically comprised of two steel cables that are attached to anchor points on each side of the tank. There are variations of this product, but typically the cable length on both sides of the tank is that of the tank itself and, in theory, allows a driver to tether-in with a belt that has a long steel lanyard or lanyards, depending on the type and manufacturer of the system itself. The belt lanyard or lanyards are attached to the cables affixed to the tank. There are several glaring concerns with this system that should be seriously considered by anyone evaluating practical fall protection solutions. First, who installs a fall protection system at foot level? Both the tank cable and the lanyard serve as nothing more than trip hazards. Another concern should be the length of the belt lanyard compared to the height of the driver. There is tremendous risk to the driver should they choose to remove the lanyard clasp from the tank cable to perform a task requiring the driver to reach or lean forward and they end up going over the edge, likely injured and hanging from the side of the tank. Moreover, the driver could be suspended by a single cable attached to a belt around their waste and lower back. In other words, the system, by default, would then serve as a poorly designed fall arrest system that would normally require a harness. In this scenario, even with a proper fall arrest system, the driver is put at risk and the tank is exposed to damage. Another undesirable characteristic is the slack in the lanyards.
We have been told by drivers whose businesses have used these types of systems that the lanyards are easily entangled on the hardware on the top of the tank itself, such as vapor recovery systems. One driver of a large petroleum company shared, “The cable almost took me down when it got caught on one of the hatch latches, I thought I was going over the side of the tank.” The cumbersome nature of these systems makes them easy to ignore and as a result, often not used by the driver. Why invest in a system that is unused, unsafe, and as a result, unreliable?
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Working at heights is, arguably, one of the most dangerous aspects of any job. This is especially true in the transportation industry where drivers and operators often must climb to the top of a tank truck or bulk carrier where the work surface can be narrow and confined, trip hazards exist, and challenges such as the weather and human error can lead to potential falls. Regardless of the cause, the outcome could result in severe injury or death. Fortunately, there is a solution that can protect workers from sustaining a fall: the Standfast TRAM Fall Prevention System.
The TRAM – is designed to protect workers in all types of environments and offers continued fall protection throughout the course of a job or task at height, including access and egress from a ladder, where 80% of falls occur. Operation of the TRAM is simple and the secure tethered system allows the operator to move along the walkway and perform necessary checks with ease and confidence.
In addition to the ease of operation, TRAM does not require any scheduled preventive maintenance such as lubrication or adjustment. Installation of TRAM requires as little as six man-hours for a standard system with rail and as little as two man-hours for the Standfast Fixed-Base System, used for side-access single compartment tank trucks. The system is completely mechanical and does NOT rely on an external power source, pneumatics, or hydraulics, and is therefore not subject to failure due to climate or loss of power.
Handrail systems available on the market today come in the form of fixed, mechanical or pneumatic. Regardless of type, handrail systems supply zero fall protection while on the ladder, are typically more expensive, requiring three to four times the number of man-hours to install, and have proven to be less reliable.
Recently at Tank Truck week, we noticed big yellow stickers near the ladders of the major Tank Truck OEMs and became curious.
The “solutions” provided by the OEMs themselves are untested, customized, and expensive while providing no real fall protection to the user. Not only are these “check the box” safety solutions expensive, they don’t even cover the most dangerous part of working atop the tank, the transition from ladder to the elevated work area and back. Not only does the TRAM safety system cover the transition period, it also provides total fall prevention atop the tanker at all times at a feasible price.
Tank Truck Drivers are becoming harder to find and keep, by offering an actual safety system like the TRAM, you can provide your drivers a guarantee they’ll be looked after while working at height. While Tank Truck OEMs are simply trying to cover their liability to lawsuits, while offering a dangerous and expensive alternative, Standfast TRAM is offering total protection at reasonable prices.
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Working a tank truck is a grueling job with large hours and even larger physical demands over the duration of a
haul. Certain drivers will be required to climb atop their trailers 4 (four) or more times a day. Speaking with
drivers at trade shows and hearing some of their stories points out to a few things we’ve noticed.
- Most drivers arrive at their drop-off after a drive of more than 3 hours.
- Blood circulation has been shown to cutoff after sitting in a fixed position for only 1 hour.
- Most drivers are required to do some form of a freight checklist upon arrival, including climbing atop the
- Our studies have shown more than 70% of all falls occur during access/egress (climbing up, and or
dismounting the ladder).
All of these can be factors which can lead to a calamitous fall which can not only threaten the safety of your
drivers, but in many cases the livelihood of the stakeholder businesses.
This is why the need for height safety equipment is so paramount in the industry. We often hear about falls, both
fatal and life altering as gossip, with stories being traded around in hushed tones at industry events. The
issue at hand is real, and while OSHA/DOT may take their time in pushing regulation changes, the best solution
is to be proactive.
We recently identified a fatal fall from 2014 that details how even a simple unloading on a picturesque day can
turn into a nightmare, and that’s why height safety solutions can be your best friend in 2016 and beyond.
See the link below for more information on said fall:
Visit Standfast USA today to learn more about our feasible height safety solutions:
Life Line systems have become one of the solutions for fall protection atop tanker trucks, but these systems are
without fault. A life line gantry style system is very expensive to build and keep regularly maintained in
accordance to OSHA standards. The other large issue deals with the physics of a life line system. A worker will
require enough slack in the line to preform their duties atop the truck, but the line needs to be kept tight
to prevent a fall. Unfortunately, this grey area leaves far too much room for catastrophic injuries due to the
pendulum like nature of the system. A slip or fall off the top or rear of the tanker will result in the user
launched back into side of the steel tanker’s shell.
Not only are these systems very expensive and sometimes dangerous, they often require a team of more than one
which will slow down business.
The best current solution is Standfast’s TRAM system. Using the Standard TRAM system, a worker can easily work
their tanker. With the system being installed on top of the tanker, your worker can be in the safest position
possible, regardless of location and said location’s equipment. The 24″ lanyards attaching the user to the TRAM
are long enough to prevent most injuries from a small slip/fall, and short enough to prevent a pendulum like
into the side of the tanker.
The TRAM system can also be the solution of choice for single lid tankers with the Fixed Based Rotating Arm TRAM
system. Over 70% of all falls occur during access/egress and the Fixed Based TRAM provides the best possible
protection for workers climbing atop single dome lid tankers. All of Standfast’s products meet or exceed ANSI &
regulations in regards to height safety and can be installed OEM or Retrofitted at feasible prices.
With the industry pushing forward towards tighter regulation on height safety, many are looking into the
options currently available for retrofit, as well as OEM delivered safety.
Handrails are one of the options being pushed around lately, but these devices have many limitations.
- Not MSHA compliant
- Must be 48″ tall, which can complicate certain trucks already nearing their max height for general
- Maintenance Issues
- Lack of Access & Egress protection
- Cold Weather Issues for Pneumatic & Pop Up Rails
- Aerodynamics for longer hauls
- Costly Hydraulic & Pneumatic Maintenance & Repair
- Tight dimensions limiting mobility
- Timely Installation
- Lack of Protection for Slips during inclement weather
- Added Weight
- Can complicate auto-washout mechanisms
- Lack of protection for drivers over 6′ tall and or of a “larger diameter”
These issues along with many others complicate the safety landscape for tanker truck operators. Luckily
Standfast’s TRAM system is the general solution for all these issues and meets or exceeds ANSI & OSHA
Find out more today at www.standfastusa.com
Bulk Transporter article on possible OSHA changes
OSHA’s 2016 Regulatory Schedule
It looks like the other shoe is finally about to drop. For the longest time the tank truck industry has required
it’s drivers to climb atop their trucks to load & unload, clean out tanks, and do QC checks. It’s one of the
most dangerous aspects of the job and for anyone whose been on top of a walkway, the thought of a fall is cringe
Now it appears as though OSHA is taking charge in making significant changes to the now archived Miles Memo. In
our longterm research we have found that 75% of falls in the trucking industry occur during access and egress.
This is why the TRAM system was designed to protect the driver at all times when preforming maintenance atop the
truck. With our 24″ tethers connecting you to the TRAM Arm, you can never fall away from our protection system.
This means you won’t hit the side of your truck like a wrecking ball should you slip and fall from the top
It will be interesting to see how things progress with OSHA. Those in the industry know the different
interpretations of the Miles Memo left a loophole that allowed the transportation industry to avoid height
safety regulations; where virtually every other “working at height” industry has strict regulations at the
behest of the workers.
It appears as though April 2016 will be a pivotal month in determining what direction OSHA points the industry
Welcome to the Standfast USA blog.
In the coming weeks, you’ll find information regarding Height Safety & Fall Protection on this site with updates
coming at least once a week.
Our goal is to provide visitors current news and opinion pieces on the current status of the Height Safety & Fall
Standfast is the manufacturer of the highly decorated TRAM Fall Protection System, with over 10,000 units
installed world wide. The TRAM System provides fall restraint or arrest protection as well as an integrated,
adjustable handhold for both stability and confidence.
TRAM protects both operators and mechanics during rigging or maintenance activities whose locations are accessed
from an elevated location.
TRAM secures the user during dangerous access/egress at ladder-to-platform transition.
The TRAM system exceeds fall protection standards world wide, with many different variants that allow it to be
configured to your specific needs.
More information can be found on our homepage http://www.standfastusa.com