Overhead rigid rail fall protection systems provide the highest degree of mobility and safety in fall protection. The system is designed to prevent its user from falling a long distance if he/she should slip while traversing along an elevated surface. While the rigid rail system does not prevent falls, when properly used, it limits the distance a user can fall to less than two feet.

Overhead Rigid Rail Fall Protection
Overhead Rigid Rail Fall Protection

In an overhead rigid rail fall protection system, a steel track is installed above your walking surface providing continuous lateral coverage along the unprotected area. The user is outfitted with a full-body safety harness that connects to a moving trolley via a self-retracting lifeline (SRL).

The SRL provides a vertical lifeline for fall-arrest or restraint. While they pull out and retract easily to allow for workable mobility, SRLs contain a sensitive braking mechanism that is activated by sudden rapid movement. The lifeline is designed to absorb some of the shock incurred by a fall. Most of today’s SRLs feature a friction control mechanism that provides a smoother stop and limits fall forces.

The force of the fall is distributed over a user’s body via a full-body harness, which is connected to the SRL. Typically weighing less than three pounds, the safety harness has a back-mounted D-Ring which is used to hook up to the lifeline. Harnesses include several quick-release clamps and tensioning adjustments to fit various body shapes and sizes. Proper adjustment of the harness is essential to the user’s safety. Because of this unique fit, it is recommended each user have his/her own personal harness.

The safety harness takes on the force of a fall and distributes to areas of the body better able to absorb the force and support weight. In addition to distributing force, the design of a full-body harness serves to keep the user upright in a fall. This allows a deceleration device to properly deploy, but also keeps the spine vertical, which is ideal for the body to best absorb compressive forces of a fall.

Overhead rigid rail fall protection systems are safer than their flexible lifeline counterparts. Overhead rigid rail systems provide the shortest fall arrest distance and remove the secondary fall risks of wire-rope based fall arrest systems. They can be installed in customized configurations for your work site including outdoor, indoor, fold-a-way, swing arm, and mobile applications.

Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoring operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance. If these hazards exist at your work site, consider overhead rigid rail fall protection systems to protect your workers.