One of the world’s top producers of olefins and polyolefins seeking to improve their fall prevention measures on top of rail cars approached Sam Carbis Solutions Group, LLC for assistance. The company faced several challenges with this endeavour. Many of the loading/unloading stations or spots were designed in the 1970’s. Over time the spots have evolved into very tight overcrowded mazes of catwalks, process piping, loading arms, work stations, skids, hoses, and access platforms where upgrading fall prevention seemed impossible. After one failed attempt Sam Carbis Solutions Group, LLC was brought in to explore the areas in question.
The company’s desire was to add fall prevention to the tops of rail cars. Due to customer commitments, down time needed to be limited to short periods (half a day time slots at most). The installation had to occur around continuing operational processes and product flow. Not only did the company have financial and timeline constrains, the area of the application had more limitations.
Many companies face similar challenges like this. Retrofitting fall prevention equipment around existing processes and loading/unloading equipment is an enormous challenge in today’s market place. Loading/unloading stations evolve as processes change over time, adding piping and process equipment, changes to the original layout thus making these areas limited on available space to maneuver.
The solutions involved not only had to take into consideration the fall prevention upgrade requests but also the process for accessing the top of the rail cars and the activities conducted while on top of the rail cars. These activities included the loading/unloading equipment, where this equipment stored when not in operation and the range of motion this equipment would use when in operation. As our work force ages companies are forced to consider a multitude of issues when taking on tasks such as upgrading fall prevention. While falls are still at the top of recordable injuries, pulls and strains are quickly approaching similar levels.
The final solution design from Sam Carbis Solutions Group, LLC involves replacing the loading arms and incorporating them into a fully integrated elevating platform system. The company had a national agreement with a leading loading arm manufacturer and was extremely reluctant to purchase new loading arms from Sam Carbis Solutions Group, LLC. After several months and numerous attempts to have the original loading arm modified, the customer came back to Sam Carbis Solutions Group, LLC requesting an integrated system.
Sam Carbis Solutions Group, LLC’s custom engineered solution included an elevating safety cage system that surrounds the existing crash box on top of liquid rail cars. Surrounding the crash box is a top rail, mid rail, and bottom rail that will close all gaps larger than 19”. A wide access gangway with 42” high handrails provides operators with safe access to the top of the rail cars. An integrated loading arm, designed for this location, maneuvers with the elevating safety cage increasing the efficiency of the loading process while maintaining operator safety. The success of this project resulted in an on time operational date within budget constraints and the company’s ability to proceed with upgrading three additional spots.
The project success allowed the company to continue their VPP STAR certification status (OSHA Voluntary Protection Program), the Texas Chemical Council’s Occupational Safety Distinguished Service Award along with many others.