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Honeywell Takes Scaffolders' Safety To New Heights In Tough Industrial Applications

Case Study

When it comes to working at height, few tasks are more dangerous than erecting scaffolding, especially in challenging industrial environments such as oil refineries. Limited anchorage options combined with trip hazards mean that falls can happen in the blink of an eye. And, with little vertical clearance, arresting the fall in time can be tricky.

THIS IS EXACTLY THE SET OF CHALLENGES THAT SAIT, AN ITALIAN COMPANY SPECIALISING IN MARINE AND INDUSTRIAL INSULATION AND SCAFFOLDING FACED WHEN INSTALLING SCAFFOLDING AT SEVERAL LARGE OIL REFINERIES IN ITALY.

SAIT partnered with Honeywell and its Italian distributor, Boursier, to tackle the specific risks faced with a flexible and easy-to-use fall arrest solution.

THE CHALLENGES OF PROTECTING SCAFFOLDERS IN OIL REFINERIES

One of the key challenges SAIT faced was ensuring that workers were constantly and safely anchored as the scaffolding work progressed. The scaffolding boards often differed in size to suit the layout of structures such as cooling towers and heat exchangers, which made the use of fall protection difficult. Typically, a lanyard is used to attach a worker’s harness to an anchorage point located at the end of each scaffolding board as work progresses. Lanyards, however, come in fixed lengths – normally 1.5 or 1.8 meters (5 or 6 feet) – which could have put SAIT’s workers at risk. As some of the scaffolding boards used by SAIT could be as long 2.6 meters (8.5 feet), a worker wouldn’t have enough rope to reach the next anchorage point without detaching themselves from the previous one.

This would, of course, put them at greater risk of falling. Problems could also arise with shorter boards as excess rope would be in the worker’s way: a dangerous tripping hazard when working at height. Another major challenge was how to protect scaffolders at low heights. As in most European countries, fall protection is a legal requirement in Italy for any work undertaken at heights above 2 meters (6.5 feet) “When there is little vertical clearance there is virtually no time to arrest a fall so workers are at greater risk of hitting the ground and suffering life-changing injuries, even at heights as low as 2 meters,” explains Lorenzo Cimmino, health and safety manager at SAIT.

“To address such risks, we followed the National Institute for Health and Safety at Work’s guidelines on temporary work at height and looked for a fully-compliant quick-response fall arrest solution that could be used even with fall factors of 1 or 2i.” What put SAIT workers at even greater risk was the lack of higher anchorage points. Overhead anchor points are always the safest option as they ensure a quicker fall arrest and minimize the risk of the so-called ‘pendulum’ effect. Until the upper levels of the scaffolding are built, however, foot-level attachments are often the only option so SAIT needed a flexible fall arrest solution that could be used safely with different anchorage points.

Another challenge for SAIT was the very nature of the environment where its scaffolders were operating, as exposure to chemicals, such as those found in refineries, can damage lanyards and shorten their service life.

HOW TO MAKE SCAFFOLDING SAFER

To overcome all of these challenges, SAIT turned to Boursier and Honeywell. The solution came in the shape of Honeywell’s Miller Turbolite self-retracting lifeline (SRL) and Titan 2-point harness.

Thanks to its 2-meter (6.5-foot) lifeline, Miller Turbolite gave SAIT’s workers enough radius to move safely along the longer scaffolding boards. With front and rear anchorage points, the Titan harness can be attached to two lifelines at the same time, meaning that a worker could easily anchor themselves to the next point without having to detach themselves from the first.

“Another advantage of using Miller Turbolite is that workers always have the option to pull out only the amount of line they actually need thus limiting trip hazards,” explains Cimmino.

The SRL is also 15 percent lighter than most comparable products and features two swivels – one on the housing and one integrated with the aluminum anchorage connector. This offered SAIT’s workers greater comfort and freedom of movement while preventing the webbing from twisting, which could cause the retractor to block when it is engaged.

Another key selling point was Honeywell Miller Turbolite’s quick-locking mechanism for reduced fall arrest distance, which is fully tested to be used with a fall factor of 2 (at heights as low as 4 meters – 13 feet above ground) even if the anchorage point is at foot level.

The SRL’s flexibility also meant that SAIT was able to find a solution to protect workers at even lower heights.

“When overhead anchorage wasn’t an option, our workers were able to attach themselves to anchorage points on the building structures and pull out part of the lifeline sideways,” explains Cimmino. “This meant that, with the scaffolding boards being 1.60-meter (5.2-foot) wide, there would only be about 40 cm (15.7 inches) of lifeline left so that, even at heights as low as 2 meters, we could avoid the risk of a worker hitting the ground before the lifeline arrests the fall.”

Finally, Honeywell Miller Turbolite’s engineered webbing (vectran/polyester) for greater abrasion resistance and high-strength, impact-resistant nylon housing meant that exposure to chemicals and other substances could be limited to a minimum and service life extended. Additionally, a highly visible fall arrest indicator on the webbing enabled both users and safety manager to easily identify when the system had been exposed to a fall or was damaged and needed replacing.


SAFER AND MORE PRODUCTIVE SCAFFOLDERS

Boursier’s well-established relationship with Honeywell helped ensure the success of the application.

“We have worked with Honeywell for over 20 years and really appreciate the company’s unique expertise and broad range of PPE,” comments Andrea Boursier, managing director of Boursier S.r.l. “Not only was Honeywell able to provide us with all the necessary technical documentation that SAIT requested and evidence compliance with the National Institute for Health and Safety at Work’s guidelines, but also offered training on the use of the equipment, particularly the visual fall arrest indicator.

”Boursier has already supplied SAIT with nearly 350 Miller Turbolite SRLs and 430 Titan harnesses and the company is currently looking to extend the use of this equipment to other industrial applications.

“Honeywell’s fully compliant and comprehensive fall arrest solution, including Miller Turbolite and Titan, has given our workers the confidence to perform their tasks safely in particularly demanding industrial applications,” comments Cimmino. “Given how easy and comfortable it is to use, we are confident that this technology will not only help us take the safety of our scaffolders to new heights, but also have a positive impact on productivity. Although it is still early days, we have already noticed that they are able to perform their tasks more easily and quickly.”

ABOUT HONEYWELL

Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions (SPS) provides products, software and connected solutions that improve productivity, workplace safety and asset performance for our customers across the globe. We deliver on this promise through industry-leading mobile devices, software, cloud technology and automation solutions, the broadest range of personal protective equipment and gas detection technology, and customengineered sensors, switches and controls. We also manufacture and sell a broad portfolio of footwear for work, play and outdoor activities, including XtraTuf™ and Muck Boot™ brand footwear.


Honeywell (www.honeywell.com) is a Fortune 100 software-industrial company that delivers industry specific solutions that include aerospace and automotive products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes, and industry; and performance materials globally. Our technologies help everything from aircraft, cars, homes and buildings, manufacturing plants, supply chains, and workers become more connected to make our world smarter, safer, and more sustainable. For more news andinformation on Honeywell, please visit www.honeywell.com/newsroom.

ABOUT SAIT

Founded in Naples in 1950, SAIT is one of the leading companies in Italy for thermal and acoustic insulation, scaffolding, and asbestos removal, specialising in the marine and industrial sectors. Over the years, the company has undertaken work at large manufacturing facilities, including Alfa Romeo’s and Pirelli’s industrial plants, as well as major power plants and oil refineries in Italy. It has also been one of the main contractors of the US Naval Mediterranean Force headquarter in Naples. For more news and information visit www.saitspa.eu/honeeng.

ABOUT BOURSIER

Boursier founded in 1947 in Naples is a leading company specializing in Industrial maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) and in Safety Products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It's a Gold Partner according to the Honeywell Safety Products Preferred Partner Program. For more news and information visit www.boursier.it