MKE Services Ltd who design, engineer and manufacture leading edge protection systems were asked by one of their customers to investigate a universal solution to prevent falls from flatbed lorries/trailers so that any lorry that turned up at site with no protection could be quickly rendered safe for unloading rather than being sent away (they actually charge for this service now so will quickly recoup their capital outlay). They also required that there should be minimal infringement on the loadbed.
Finding a Solution
After some research into both the available systems on the market and into trailer design and regulations it soon became apparent that a simple post and rail system (or post and wire mesh system) was not suitable for the majority of applications. If a trailerbed is loaded to the edge with steel or concrete beams a post and rail/wire mesh system could become a trip hazard in some cases. For this reason MKE set about designing a working platform or gangway which would clamp to the side of any trailer and allow operatives to attach lifting hooks to loads without necessarily having to access the trailerbed. Access to this platform would be via a height adjustable self-levelling class A stairway, infringement upon the load bed would be as close to zero as possible, the entire system must be capable of being assembled from the ground by a single person with a maximum installation time of 20 minutes. The initial design concept is seen below
Because of the lack of standardisation of trailerbed design, including the rave ( the steel section which runs along the sides of the trailerbed) and the cross and longitudinal beams providing the structure under the trailerbed floor MKE decided to make the rails and the lightweight stagings telescopic so that the bracket placement can avoid interference to beams etc. It was also decided to make the system modular so that customers could mix and match where they have a walkway and where they have simple post and rail. There was also the question of regulations to contend with, whilst there are no specific regulations for working on trailer beds it is broadly covered in the work at height regulations 2005 (WAHR) where falls above 1 metre onto a hard/uneven surfaces would be expected to require protection, preferably collective prevention rather than fall mitigation according to HSE hierarchy. To this end MKE designed and tested the trailersafety system by using three different specifications relating to their component parts. BS EN 13374 temporary edge protection for pillars and rails, BS EN 1004:2004 Stairway Class A for the stairs and BS 2037 Class 1 for the telescopic lightweight stagings with a SWL of 270kgs tested to 540kgs. This resulted in a unique and patented design which required developing aluminium extrusions for the stagings.
The above pictures from left to right show how minimal the infringement of the bracket footprint is on the loadbed, assembly from the ground by one person with ZERO exposure to risk and finally the completed platform showing how, on a trailer load of steel stacked to the edge of the bed, safe access is provided to attach crane hooks
The above pictures show how the operator can attach the chains without having to climb either on top of the load or to tiptoe past the beams in order to get to both ends, it also provides him with a “safe haven” to get completely away from the slung load without having to dismount the lorry.