Railcars are different from most other types of vehicles that workers will have to load or unload materials from. Rather than being attached to the car’s body, the axles of a railcar are placed on the truck and can move freely. While the weight of the car and its load keeps the railcar in place during transport, the process of loading and unloading materials can throw off its delicate balance and pose serious safety risks. To safely navigate the railcar unloading process, it’s important to be aware of the most common railcar unloading accidents so you can avoid them.
Falling From Substantial Heights
When unloading a railcar, workers may need to climb up the car’s ladder or on top of the car itself. In such a case, it’s important to be aware of the risk of slipping or tripping and falling from a high location. To minimize injuries and fatalities that occur as a result of falls when unloading railcars, it’s important for workers to follow proper safety protocol and maintain three points of contact at all times. In addition, OSHA-compliant passive and active fall protection systems such as guardrails or anchor points should be installed on the job site.
Getting Hit by Incoming Railcars
Another one of the most common railcar unloading accidents that occurs is getting hit by oncoming railcars. When unloading a railcar or waiting for a railcar to arrive, it’s important to stay extremely vigilant. When the axles of a railcar are well-lubricated, it can roll down a track relatively noiselessly. As such, workers may not hear it coming and could get hit. Thus, it’s critical to always remain aware of one’s surroundings and avoid standing, sitting, or walking on or between rails. If a worker has to cross tracks, they should always look both ways before crossing at a right angle.
Getting Crushed by the Car or the Load
As previously stated, the wheels on railcars are not attached to the car’s body. Thus, if the car’s balance is disrupted during the unloading process, there is a potential that it could tip over and crush a worker. To prevent the railcar from tipping over, it’s crucial to unload the contents of the car evenly. In addition, the car should be mechanically secured for optimum safety.