Fold-Away Fall Arrest System Provides Fall Protection Under Overhead Cranes


Two years ago, Rigid Lifelines introduced the fold-away fall protection system. Engineering of this system started when end-users came to Rigid Lifelines and expressed interest in a fall protection system that did not require permanent installation, one that had some mobility. Many end-users complained that a permanent structure would interfere with their work processes by being in the way of large overhead cranes. Traditional wire rope systems were also not an option due to low clearance and other design deficiency like greater free fall distance. Rigid Lifelines management and engineers sat down and evaluated these end-user requests and as a result, the fold-away fall protection system is now being offered to end-users, and success stories are already apparent.

A few months ago, a process engineer and plant safety manager for a small powered transformer facility in the south identified a serious safety deficiency in their production process.  Inside their facility, transformers were being manufactured through a series of work stations. During the production process, large transformer shells measuring anywhere from 10’ to 18’ in height were transported via rail or crane to the individual stations. Once at the stations, workers needed to climb on top of the shells to insert coils, gauges, and other components. The process of climbing on top of the shells was extremely dangerous due to the height of the transformers.  The working height was also in violation of OSHA’s regulation requiring fall protection for workers working at heights of 4 feet or more.


After evaluating their need, the process engineer and safety manager contacted a local Rigid Lifelines distributor. It was explained that the company needed a system that could provide low clearance fall protection to their workers while they climbed on top of the transformer shells, but that the system could not interfere with the overhead crane that was used to move the shells from station to station.

After listening to the situation and performing an onsite evaluation, the Rigid Lifelines distributor recognized that the Rigid Lifelines Fold-Away fall protection system was a perfect fit.  The distributor collaborated with Rigid Lifelines engineering to design a fold-away system that interfaced with the company’s current warehouse columns and conduit. The resulting system was comprised of 2 forty foot spans of continuous dual steel enclosed track that was under-hung on steel jibs that measured 15 feet off of the warehouse columns when the system was fully extended.


When folded in against the columns, the system protruded only one foot off of the columns, providing room for the overhead crane to work as usual. The system can be manually moved and locked into place at varying degrees. Another great feature of the system is the dual track that allows for two workers to work on top of the transformers and walk along opposite sides, passing each other without needing to disconnect from the trolley. After a few months of use the company’s safety manager is thrilled with the integration of the system. In fact, orders are currently being placed for another similar system in another part of the plant.