The new fall protection equipment at Ludlow Cooperative Elevator Co.'s rail terminal on the north edge of Paxton, Illinois is one of the longest ever installed at a grain elevator by Fall Protection Systems.
The I-beam-type system, which was completed in December 2002, stretches 1,000 feet from end to end, about the length of 15 railcars, and passes through a loadout shed. It can hold up to three workers at once. The system includes attached galvanized steel staircases and access platforms with drop-down gangways, which eliminates the need for workers to climb the metal rung ladders installed on covered hopper cars.
Designed for High Volume
The reason for such a lengthy system is the volume at which grain is shipped from the central Illinois facility, according to Assistant Operations Manager Myron Rust. The facility frequently loads one or two 100-car unit trains a week on the Canadian National/Illinois Central's main north-south line.
"We've been looking into fall protection equipment for two or three years, for the safety of our employees," Rust says. "We looked at cable-type systems, but with our volume, we usually need two or three people working on top of these railcars, and a more heavy-duty I-beam system handles that weight better."
The system consists of an I-shaped trolley rail suspended from a patented triangular truss. The heavy-duty trolley beam is rated to support over 5,000 lbs. of weight and holds up to three people.
The system is curved to accommodate a bend in the tracks and is partially attached to a loadout roof structure. Freestanding, 30-foot-tall gooseneck vertical columns support the extensions at 100-foot intervals beyond the shed.
Workers on top of railcars wear full body harnesses to which they attach lanyards, which in turn, are attached to the trolley rail by Model 4000 trolleys. These trolleys move along the rail on four wheels. They are equipped with wrap-around flanged ends designed to serve as snow and ice breakers in foul weather.
Rust comments that the support columns were designed with extra long rail support arms, so that a second trolley rail can be added on if it becomes necessary. That will allow workers to move around across a second string of railcars on an adjacent siding in the rail yard.
This case study was pulled from an article in the January/February 2003 Issue of Grain Journal by Ed Zdrojewski.