TT Talk - Club urges attention to flatracks
A member of the Club recently alerted us to a possible danger if flatracks are not assembled properly. As members will know, these units are extensively used for the movement of large out-of-gauge items and when not in use, the end walls can usually be lowered so that they can be consolidated into stacks to save space on empty legs. However if the catches and locking devices are not properly re-engaged or re-secured prior to the next loaded journey, there is a substantial risk that stresses will be created at one end of the unit, eventually leading to failure of the component. As this will inevitably happen while the unit is being lifted, not only is the cargo put at risk but there are serious dangers to workers and to other units directly underneath.
The Club urges members using this type of equipment to make sure that all locking devices on flatracks are properly maintained and that they are checked to be fully functioning by competent personnel before units are released from empty storage for a collection.
Similar problems have arisen in the past with stacks of empty flatracks being transported overland. If the headboards of the topmost flat are not properly secured in the horizontal position, there is a danger that they will be blown upright by the slipstream and/or through vibration. If the unit is being transported by rail, this can cause serious damage to overhead electrical lines, bridges,station canopies and so on, as well as to the unit itself. If the unit is going by road, there is the additional risk of an accident if following traffic suddenly has to take avoiding action if a flapping headboard strikes a bridge or other overhead obstruction.
Before any stack of collapsed flats is released for overland transport, whether by road or rail, both top headboards must be secured by wires or straps attached to fixing points on the bottom flat and passing over the whole unit.
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ICHCA International has opened the 2021 TT Club Innovation in Safety Award and invites submissions from anyone involved in cargo logistics who can show a demonstrable improvement to safety