One of the most common markets that Planet Platforms services is the rail industry, and it is where our rail access platforms can be found throughout the country and beyond. Safety in this sector is paramount and working at height is a common task within a rail maintenance depot. Risks of a fall from height exist above and below ground and these must be suitably mitigated with the correct safety measures. Planet Platforms rail access platforms help in achieving this.
Several areas around a rail vehicle where personnel will have to work at height and this article will explore these zones and detail how our rail access platforms succeed in doing this safely.
Carriage door - rail access platforms
Typically, within a rail maintenance depot, there will be no platform present from which to gain access to and from a rail carriage. So, getting in and out of a car will require someone to work at height. Normally this is around a height of 1280mm from ground level to the threshold of the sole plate.
Probably the most common piece of access equipment that we design and manufacture for the rail industry are carriage door rail access platforms. They come in various designs with features including single or double-inclined stair access that reflect the anticipated use of the platforms i.e., double inclined stairs where frequency of access is expected to be relatively high.
In nearly all examples these platforms will be set on a series of low-resistance, swivel, and braked castor (triple-wheeled in some instances, as this is a particular and unique requirement within the rail sector). These rail access platforms can be simply pushed into position and braked. Being lightweight and manufactured from aluminium enables this to be done by just one person.
Rail vehicles have multiple points of entry, and it may not be necessary to have access via a carriage door platform for everyone. Firstly, this might be because it saves very little time in being able to but just as importantly is financially costly to do so.
However, the doors at these points are often left open and if a set of platform stairs is not there, then there is the potential risk of a fall from height through an open carriage door. Here Planet Platforms door barriers provide a relatively inexpensive option to minimise the risk.
Front end - rail access platforms
Another common area that we are tasked with helping to access is the front end of the train. Here there will be maintenance tasks including the inspection of lights, glazing, and wipers.
Being able to span the entire width of a vehicle removes the need to reposition the platform, so multiple tasks can be completed across the entire length of the platform. Our step designs can account for them being used on either side of the platform if needed or in the middle of the unit where site conditions allow. The image below illustrates this perfectly.
Roof-rail access platforms
The roof area on a train is where many of the utilities are located and where on the top of the vehicle the likes of the pantograph that connects to the overhead line is situated. Getting up there will require someone to work at height and there are a couple of ways that we safely achieve this.
Firstly, through fixed gantry platforms that are typically manufactured from steel and where it will be necessary for longer periods of work. These fixed gantry platforms can often span tens of metres and will remove the need for personnel to ascend and then descend from height to get to a different area of the train.
Not all depot environments have the necessary space to accommodate a fixed gantry platform and not all tasks working on top of the vehicle will be along its entire length. It is here where our mobile “boxing ring” platforms are exceptionally useful. Positioned at one side of the train, personnel climb the tower structure and access the platform area. From here, the boxing ring is extended to provide 360° fall protection even as the equipment is being deployed. If access is restricted alongside the vehicle, we can mount them on steel ballast bases that reduce the overall footprint of the
We saw at the start of this article that the risks of a fall from height within a rail maintenance depot can be above and below ground level. The risks below ground level arise where a maintenance pit is present, which is where personnel need to get beneath the vehicle to carry out work on and around the wheels. These pits can extend the entire length of the depot and if the train only occupies a small section, then it can become quite time-consuming to walk the complete run to simply get to the other side.
A pitboard removes this from happening. Our designs, where needed, allow the train to pass over the pitboard without the need of removing it. They come with options such as handrails and steps to access the inspection pit and are rated to 500kgs per m² (5kN/m²).
Fibreglass rail access platforms
Not all risks within a rail depot are visible and that of electrocution is one of them. Here our non-conductive fibreglass train access platforms come to the fore. We can build systems entirely out of fibreglass or hybridise them with our aluminium ones. A great example is where we make our boxing ring sections out of fibreglass.
When it comes to working at height safely the rail industry is exemplary in using the correct access equipment to keep its workers safe. Remember. You don’t have to fall far to fall hard.