Gorbel Rigid Rail Fall Arrest Solution Provides Safe Height Maintenance for RV Service Center
When our safety-conscious RV Service Center client in Texas needed to protect its mechanics and service techs as they worked on top of RVs, it made sense to contact WW Cannon’s Doug Hutchins. Hutchins is known throughout the industry as the “Warehouse Lifeguard” and has earned a reputation for outfitting companies with the best fall protection solution for their application.
“With every fall protection application, there’s a hierarchy of questions that I go through to identify the best-practice solution,” says Hutchins.
“With the RV service center, the first thing I looked at, ‘Was there any way that they could avoid working on the roof?’ And of course, in this situation the answer was no. Then I asked, ‘Was there any room on the floor for us to build a system?’ No, not sufficient room. Since there was limited space, we had to look to the ceiling.”
Once it was determined that the fall protection system would have to be installed on the ceiling of the service center, Hutchins educated the customer on the different fall protection options available.
“There were really two types of systems our customer could have used,” says Hutchins. “The first was a wire cable system and the second was a rigid rail system. I was able to explain the benefits and differences of the two systems and once they had a good understanding of their options, it was a very easy decision.”
For this specific work environment, the rigid rail solution won out by providing numerous advantages over the wire cable system.
“Gorbel’s rigid rail fall protection system is a permanent solution,” Hutchins says. “It’s welded and bolted to the ceiling and it’s not coming down. With a wire cable option, if somebody were to fall, much of the wire cable system would need to be replaced. From a cost standpoint, the rigid rail may be a bit more, but since it’s a permanent system there’s no part of it that needs to be replaced after a fall. Plus, when someone does fall, they’ll only fall 4 to 6 inches before they’re caught.”
“The rigid rail allows for multiple people to be working simultaneously. They can move by each other without having to disconnect and reconnect their lanyard, which would be impossible with a wire rope system. We’ve done systems that have 20 people on those rails. And with a rigid rail system, they can start out from the floor already connected so that they’re secured when climbing up the ladder. It’s completely hands free, which allows the mechanics to focus all of their attention on the job at hand.”
Once the decision was made to move forward with the rigid rail fall arrest system, there were a few challenges that needed attention.
“We needed to confirm the building could hold the system,” Hutchins says. “Some service centers are not built or made for ceiling mounted equipment. We had a structural engineer run calculations to determine how the ceiling could be reinforced in order to safely hold the new system. Adding welds to the beams and columns for reinforcement provided the solution needed to secure it.”
Another challenge was a very low ceiling. The system had to be engineered so that the mechanics could work on top of the RVs without hitting their head on the rail above.
“We took the header beam and welded it as high up on the webbing of the building as possible, and installed the track underneath. We went as high as the ceiling would allow, which got us enough clearance.” The system itself took about 2 weeks to install completely.
“WW Cannon was hired because of our complete turn-key services,” says Hutchins. “Not only did we design, layout, build and install the system, but we also went the extra mile to find the right solution to fit the unique needs of our customer.”
Once installation was complete, the WW Cannon team provided their customer with comprehensive safety training for their staff, including proper protocol during a fall.
“We helped the customer develop a rescue plan,” says Hutchins. “This is required by law. If somebody were to fall, they’d be safe due to the harness, but there has to be a procedure in place to get them down as quickly as possible. Can’t leave a person dangling and have their circulation cut off.”
With the system in place and the staff properly trained, the RV Service Center is thrilled with the end result. Hutchins and WW Cannon had once again lived up to their reputation as the Warehouse Lifeguards by providing the best-practice safety solution.
Read our Fall Protection article on the MHEDA Journal. MHEDA (Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association) has honored W.W. Cannon with their Most Valuable Partner (MVP) Award for the 8th consecutive year in 2020.
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