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Rail fall protection

Rail fall protection system fits right in with the general trend of issues and solutions in OHS field, which develop dynamically. Both new technology and work on awareness of employers and employees alike contribute to increase the safety of a workplace. One of the topics that deserve particular attention is protection against fall from a height. Effective way to secure this field is to apply permanent fall protection systems allowing  users to connect with personal protection equipment. Popular representative of this group of devices is rail fall protection system.

Permanent devices protecting against fall form a height

At the beginning it must be mentioned that each permanent fall protection system is characterized by firm fastening to building’s structure. It forms its integral part and exploitation period is estimated to be as long as building itself. Currently we have established primary classification of fall protection systems. We can differentiate: point anchorage devices, horizontal anchoring systems and vertical systems protecting against a fall. While choosing the right kind of protection, professional firms dealing with these kinds of realizations should be asked for advice. We described differences between particular types of such devices in our previous publications. In this article we want to bring closer the topic of rail solutions, which can be used in both horizontal and vertical installations.

Rail fall protection system – characterization

Wherever there is a risk of a fall from a height and we care about freedom of movement in certain area, rail fall protection system can prove to be a perfect solution. Thanks to its structure it allows for constant protection on its whole range. Providing safe movement during various tasks directly translates to their execution time and quality. Guideway in the form of rigid rail is a distinctive element of this system’s structure. Sections of rail are connected together and are mounted to a building creating uninterrupted string. It is possible to fit system’s course to its surroundings by properly planning each straight and curved segments. Mobile trolley (or slider) is directly responsible for user’s safety. It constitutes moving anchoring point for personal protection equipment. These elements can be permanently attached to guideway or can be removed after finished job, depending on the producer of said system. Other premise to choose this kind of fall protection is a need to shorten the way of falling. Application of rigid guideway can reduce deflection of whole system during a fall, therefore minimizing required free zone.

Permanent vertical rail protection systems – types and applications

As we signalized before, systems using firm guideway can be applied in many situations. Very often ladder is a place where its user is in danger of falling from a height. Most effective way to provide safety of use of such element is designing a rail fall protection system. This type of construction aim to stop a fall. It is obvious that providing constant protection and shortening the way of falling is key criteria during planning to secure ladders. Very important element of vertical system’s structure is trolley (or slider).

During work it moves without an issue up and down along the rail at slow pace. This way it follows worker all the way on the ladder, both during ascent and slow descent. In case of a fall (quick downwards movement) the device locks itself on guideway and stops the fall. It also limits braking force to not exceed 6kN. This mode of action classifies vertical rail fall protection system to group of connecting and shock-absorbing devices which are described by EN353-1 norm.

Fall protection rails Absorber

Solutions that use rigid guideway also find application in horizontal systems, most often mounted on the rooftops of buildings. Each such surface without attic wall of at least 1,5m heigh should be protected against fall from a height. Rail fall protection systems are a great alternative to e.g. montage of guardrails. Current installation methods allow fastening to any roofing, but also to vertical constructions (e.g. steel shutters, pillars etc.). Broad range of application, possibility of use by multiple people simultaneously and short real way of falling pose solid arguments during design phase. Rail fall protection systems are included in the group of anchoring devices described by EN795 type D norm.