Benefits of Dual Track Rigid Rail Systems

The fall protection industry is growing rapidly. Safety mangers throughout the country are recognizing the need for fall protection in many fields, such as aviation, construction, manufacturing, and transportation, to name a few. With so many fall protection products flooding the market, how can you know which fall protection system is right for your facility?

There are two types of horizontal fall arrest systems: cable-based systems and rigid enclosed track systems. Although both types have advantages, cable-based systems have three major disadvantages: maintenance, deflection, and lack of worker passability.

Maintenance required by cable-based systems includes re-tensioning, oiling, and lubricating. In the event of a fall, you will need to replace components or possibly even all the wire rope. You must at least replace the shock absorbers and have a certified installer or competent person re-tension the system, inspect it, and recertify its safety before anyone can use the system again. This process takes time and makes the system unusable until it’s completed.

The cables themselves also deflect in the event of a fall—a horizontal wire rope will pull downward into a V-shape when subjected to the force of an attached worker’s sudden fall. This deflection, unfortunately, adds feet to the fall distance. In other words, falls are protected when they occur at heights greater than the cable’s maximum deflection, but a fall closer to the ground may result in the worker hitting the ground before the cables can truly arrest the fall. Even if the ground is too far away to be dangerous, the significant deflection and subsequent swing fall adds to the risk of the worker hitting the working surface, such as the side of a truck, rail car, or other object.

Additionally, if more than one worker needs to connect to the same wire rope, there is no way for one to pass the other without first disconnecting, passing, and then reconnecting. Needless to say, those moments when the worker is disconnected from the fall protection system come with serious risk of a fall.

Rigid track systems allow the trolley to move freely within a rigid, enclosed track while following users overhead as they work in elevated spaces. Dual track systems use two tracks overhead, allowing two employees to work on the same job at the same time with more mobility. Having a second track eliminates the need for waiting in line or disconnecting to pass. The connected trollies simply glide past each other on their own independent enclosed tracks, letting both workers tend to their responsibilities without interfering with each other.

The benefits of rigid track systems go beyond passability. Track-based systems require far less maintenance than their cable-system counterparts. With a design that prevents dirt and debris from impeding trolley movement or damaging the track, rigid track systems do not use wire ropes that periodically need re-tensioning. With no wire ropes to deflect, the fall distance is kept to inches instead of feet, meaning the fallen worker is much more likely to perform a self rescue and avoid swing fall injuries. In the event of a fall, a rigid track system can be operational again much sooner than cable systems. For example, a Rigid Lifelines® Anchor Track™ System can be used again in minutes after a competent person inspects the system using the provided checklist. And finally, rigid track systems protect workers with a connection point directly overhead, eliminating deflection and minimizing swing fall hazards.

Choosing the right fall protection system for your application is important. Consult with a local qualified dealer to see which fall protection system is best for your facility. And if you have any questions, feel free to contact us today. 


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