SafeRack brings greater safety, simplicity to Westway terminal

Eighteen months ago, Westway Terminals, New Orleans, LA, which operates 18 bulk-liquid storage facilities in the United States, 12 in Europe, and one each in Canada, Brazil, South Korea, and Mozambique, made the determination that the railcar fall-protection system at its Jacksonville (FL) Terminal was due to be upgraded.

This was not a consideration to be taken lightly as Westway has nearly 17 million gallons of capacity spread among 31 storage tanks, which handle commodities as varied as solvents, caustic soda, lignin sulfonate, acids, pesticides, and chemicals. These liquids are transferred into and out of the facility via barge, rail, truck, and ship, and stored in tanks with capacities ranging from 50,000 to 2 million gallons.

Tasked with identifying and acquiring the new railcar fall-protection system was Garry Swearingen, Westway Jacksonville’s terminal manager. He identified three vendors he thought would meet the facility’s criteria and one of them was SafeRack LLC. Handling the Westway bid for SafeRack was Chris Hite, the company’s Southeast Territory manager. Thanks in part to Hite’s diligence, Swearingen ordered and subsequently installed several SafeRack G4 Series Flat Ramp Telescopic (FRT) Gangways for use in the railyard.

Currently, Westway Jacksonville has the new FRT systems in fixed locations with an additional MAU-I mobile railcar loading/unloading access unit that can be used where needed.

“Probably over half of the systems had to have special dimensions to them because these racks, when they were built years ago, were not made for this type of fall protection,” said Swearingen. “The rail locomotive has to pass by without hitting them, and that’s easier said than done sometimes.”

The SafeRack FRT model gangway features a slip-resistant surface and a telescoping extension on the end, which eliminates gaps when accessing the top of the railcar. The FRTs also feature telescoping top handrails with the option to add a safety cage. Westway Jacksonville is using the model with a 24-inch wide track-mount system, which allows the gangway to slide horizontally until it is over the desired area on top of the railcar. The FRT models also benefit from SafeRack’s patent-pending G4 design features, which use metal-stamping technology to create a stronger, yet lighter and easier-to-operate gangway.

“With our old system, there is a drop-down ramp that’s pulled out to the railcar,” said Swearingen. “With the SafeRack, there’s ease of operation. You can get the ramp down without taking two men and a boy to do it. It’s a one-man operation. The ramp comes down easily and goes up easily, and when you’re on top of the railcar, you’re protected by the cage.”

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