Help! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

Written By: Greg Conner

Gorbel Tether Track Swing Arm System

Swing arm configuration of Gorbel’s Tether Track Rigid Rail System
Photo: Gorbel, Inc.

Last night I had a nightmare. It was the one we’ve all had where we’re falling and wake up just before we hit the ground. I don’t know about you, but I hate that one! Too bad I didn’t have fall protection equipment. I could have enjoyed a good night’s sleep.

Well now there is a solution. One that is finally configurable enough that I can install one in my bedroom, as if that would really do me any good, right? But the Gorbel Tether Track™ fall arrest system can be a lifesaver (literally) in a variety of industries.

There have always been those applications where people have to do tasks in a location where they could fall and hurt themselves or worse. For many of these, using a traditional fall arrest system just won’t work or is impractical for any number of reasons. For example:

  1. Overhead cranes block access to hanging points.
  2. Hanging point structures need to be moved out of the way when they aren’t being used.
  3. Deploying and removing the fall arrest equipment takes longer than the dangerous task being performed.

Here are a few numbers for you:

  • 605 — the number of workers who were killed in 2009 according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • 212,760 — the number of workers who were seriously hurt in work-related falls that same year
  • $70 BILLION with a “B” — the estimated cost of worker’s compensation and medical claims associated with occupational falls every year in the U.S.

OK, enough with the grim statistics. What’s does Gorbel have that can help? Tether Track™ is an overhead, rigid rail anchor system that does away with post and cable anchor points, moves with the operator, can be folded up out of the way when not in use, and complies with OSHA standards.

Tether Track Fold Away System

Fold away configuration of Gorbel’s Tether Track Rigid Rail System
Photo: Gorbel, Inc.

We’ve all seen construction sites where big tough guys wearing harnesses are working at the edge of bridge decks or open floors next to what looks like the worlds flimsiest handrail. This “hand rail”—made of cable stretched between skinny little posts—is actually the anchor point these guys have to connect their harness tethers to as they work. It’s effective, but cumbersome.

First, someone has to attach all those posts to the deck using clamps, and secondly, the operators have to continuously hook and unhook their tethers at each post as they walk along. This is essentially the same system that is used in industrial plants across the country because, well, it’s pretty much the only method available.

Now let me explain the Gorbel Tether Track™ Rigid Rail Fall Arrest System. Each system contains a structural rail or rails along with an additional rail to which a self-retracting lifeline (SRL) hangs. The SRL is like the seatbelt retractor in your car. It keeps a little bit of tension on the tether, and if it ever gets yanked really hard (as when someone falls), brakes kick in to slow the descent. However, one of the biggest benefits of the system lies in the multiple configurations in which Gorbel can suspend the rail holding the SRL. The rail can be:

  • a jib arm suspended from a post or column
  • part of a free-standing bridge and rail system
  • suspended from 2 cantilevered arms that swing out to deploy for use and then swing back out of the way when other operations need the airspace.

With this type of system, there is no more hooking around posts, no more tethers around the operator’s feet to trip on, and the SRL engages immediately instead of once the worker has fallen below the level of the anchor cable and the length of slack in the tether.  The Gorbel Tether Track™ Rigid Rail Anchor System doesn’t work for every application out there, but it does fill a niche that traditional fall arrest systems just haven’t been able to in the past.

For more information, please leave your question below, contact your Bastian Solutions representative, or send us an email.

OSHA 29 CFR, OSHA 1926, OSHA 1910, OSHA 1918

I have been with Bastian Solutions since June of 2005, and I enjoy helping our customers find solutions to their material handling challenges. I began my career at Bastian as a Project Engineer before transitioning into a Field Sales Engineer position and now Regional Director. Being in a sales role has given me the opportunity to interact with customers while serving in various roles including business development, system design, and project management / implementation.

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  1. SPS Chauhan says:

    Great Article Dave on the Hazards of Fall. As individuals and as Managers its our duty to propagate this down the line and take corrective actions in FULLY PREVENTING these disasters.

  2. Ellen says:

    Very nice article. It is our responsibility to take proper action to prevent these disasters. Such a great post.

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