Truck & Railcar Access Gangways
What Is A Gangway?
A gangway is a platform or walkway that is designed to provide safe access between a loading or unloading platform or loading rack and a tank truck, hopper truck, hopper car or liquid railcar. Gangways are designed to accommodate a wide range of truck and railcar heights and variances. Gangways can be provided as part of new loading rack installations or retrofitted to existing structures and customized to fit your sites specific need.
What is a Telescoping Extension Gangway?
A telescoping gangway is a gangway with an extension on the end that telescopes in and out to accommodate varying width liquid rail cars. Liquid rail cars have handrails on top that vary in width on average from 5’ to 8’ wide. When walking from a fixed platform or loading rack to the top of a railcar, a telescoping gangway is designed to lower down and not make contact with the railcar. In order for this to work, the end of the gangway must telescope in and out to eliminate the gap between the end of the gangway and the walkway on top of the railcar caused by the varying width railcar handrails. A telescoping extension gangway is also designed to accommodate varying height liquid railcars by operating 15 degrees above and 15 degrees below horizontal.
What is a Flat Ramp Gangway?
A flat ramp gangway is a gangway with no telescoping extension on the end. Vehicles like hopper trucks, ISO containers and hopper cars have less variance in height and have no handrails on top. When walking from a fixed platform or loading rack to the top of a hopper truck, ISO container or hopper car, a flat ramp gangway is designed to lower down to provide safe access to the truck or car top. There are no gaps between the fixed platform or loading rack caused by variances in truck or car width. Proper spotting or parking of the trucks is required to ensure the flat ramp gangways lower down to the top of the truck and not create any unsafe gaps or openings. Multiple options to ensure the trucks are spotted or parked in the designated position are known and should be considered during HAZOP, design stages.
What is a Self-Leveling Tread Gangway?
A self-leveling tread gangway, or referred to in the industry as self-leveling stairs, is a gangway utilized to access tank trucks that vary in height. Tank trucks vary in height on average 10’ to 13’. When walking from a fixed platform or loading rack to the top of a tank truck, a self-leveling tread gangway is designed with treads that are much like a stair case that remain horizontal in the gangways full operating range of 45 degrees above horizontal to 40 degrees below horizontal. This allows safe access to the top of tanks trucks from a fixed platform or loading rack to a range of tank truck heights.
Gangway Safety Cages for Operator Fall Protection
A safety cage is utilized on the end of a telescoping extension gangway, a flat ramp gangway and a self-leveling tread gangway or referred to in the industry as self-leveling stairs, to provide fall protection to operators when working on tops of rail cars and trucks that can range from 10’ to 16’ above the ground. Working from these heights on top of a rail car or truck that can be covered with rain, snow, ice, spilled products, while positioning hoses, loading arms, carrying tools, obtaining samples is dangerous. A fall from the top of these elevated work surfaces could lead to an injury or even death. Safety cages are designed for purpose based on the application and type of truck or rail car and are made of various materials such as aluminum, steel, stainless steel and galvanized steel
Safety cages are considered Engineering Controls per the OSHA Hierarchy of Controls. If the potential hazard, in this case working over 6’ off of the ground at heights from 10’ to 16’ cannot be removed or eliminated, then a safety cage can be utilized to isolate people from the hazard. Safety cages are passive fall protection as they do not require any efforts from people to utilize them unlike PPE, which is the very last measure to take per the OSHA Hierarchy of Controls. PPE is an active form of fall protection as it requires people to put on a body harness and connect to a fixed point or connect to an overhead lifeline cable system or trolley beam. The tops of rail cars and trucks cannot be used as an anchor point to connect a harness as there are no engineered anchor points on rail cars and truck.
Track Mounted Gangways
Track mounted gangways are designed to slide left and right on the face of a platform or loading rack. Track mounted gangways are used to access the tops of cars or trucks that have multiple hatches to open, inspect, fill or to allow access to coupled railcars where the opening to the top of the car is not in the same place every time due railcars being different lengths and having openings to the top of railcar walk way that are in the center of the car and can be offset left or right of the center of the car. In order to safely access the top of the railcar, the gangway slides along the face of the platform or loading rack to allow the gangway to line up with the railcar walk way access opening on top of the railcar.
A Customer Needed Safe Access From Their Mobile Transload Unit to the Top of a Liquid Railcar.
A site transloading gasoline and diesel from rail cars to trucks needed to access the top of a liquid railcar to connect vent and vapor hoses. A platform with telescoping extension gangway and a railcar safety cage was utilized to provide safe access to the car top and provide fall protection while working on top of the car. The mobile transload unit was not always placed in the exact spot every time and the rails cars all had varying width handrail on top. The telescoping extension gangway allowed the varying gap between the platform and the rail car to be closed off, providing a safe walkway to the car top. The safety cage with 12” deep rails was utilized to make the handrail height 42” to be in compliance with OSHA. Liquid railcars, due to DOT regulations only have 30” high handrails. Railcars or rolling stock as they are called by OSHA, are considered elevated platforms and the same regulations that apply to fixed platforms and elevated work surfaces apply to railcars.