How to Safeguard Against Pull-Aways at Gangway Loading Platform

What is a gangway loading platform?

Industries such as oil & gas, food & beverage, chemical, and agriculture require goods to be transported by tanker truck. Commonly, these vehicles carry granular or liquid goods like fuel, flour, sugar, or plastics. These types of goods require specialized procedures to unload and load their goods.

When a tanker truck has reached its destination, it enters the unloading/ loading area of a facility where hoses and or pumps are connected to the tank to unload or load the goods. It is common that tanker personnel will need to gain access to the top of the tank to allow for ventilation or attach hoses/pumps to begin the loading/unloading process. Many facilities have permanent or semi-permanent elevated loading platforms or gangway systems that allow authorized tanker personnel to safely access the top of the tanks.


Why is safeguarding against pull-aways important?

While gangway platforms offer personnel ease of access, they also pose some risk.  Property damage can occur when a tanker believes that the loading or unloading process is complete and begins to pull away from the loading site as its hoses/pumps are still connected. As a result, the gangway and other equipment could become damaged.

Not only is equipment and property damaged when the tanker pulls away from the gangway, but personnel is also at risk of injury or even death. INRS lists fall from height the second highest cause of work-related fatal accidents. While most gangways or loading platforms use some type of fall protection such as guardrails, accidents still occur.

In addition, it is common for tanker trucks to carry flammable or corrosive liquids which makes the safe loading/unloading of this material imperative for both the personnel and facility.


How to safeguard against pull-aways:


Be proactive

The first step in safeguarding against pull-aways at gangways systems is to be proactive. Don’t wait until a tanker has pulled away during the unloading/loading process and has caused equipment damage, product loss, or an injury before looking to reduce this type of occurrence.


Mitigate the risk

Mitigate the risk of a pull-away from occurring by installing the necessary equipment on the gangway system to reduce any accidents from occurring. Railings, communication systems, and interlocks are all examples of equipment that can greatly reduce risks.


Ensure clear communication to reduce tanker pull-aways

Communication is essential for a safe loading or unloading process to take place. Ensure tanker drivers and loading personnel can clearly and effectively communicate with each other throughout the entire process.


Force a sequential process

By forcing a step by step loading procedure, loading operations can be carried out safely without damage to personal or equipment. One way to force a sequential loading process to be followed is through an interlocking safety system. These systems can ensure that tankers cannot pull away from gangway loading structures while loading is taking place due to the forced sequential process these interlocks require.


Conclusion

While tankers are a critical part of many industries supply chains, they can pose some risks to facilities, equipment, and personnel during the loading/unloading process. Tankers can pull away from gangway loading platforms with hoses and pumps still attached potentially causing a dangerous situation. Pull-aways can be safeguarded by being proactive, mitigating the risk, ensuring clear communication between the tanker driver and loader, and forcing a sequential process to occur that eliminates the risk of a pull-away.

Facilities that frequently use gangway loading platforms to unload or load tankers should take the necessary steps to ensure operations are safe, product loss is avoided, and equipment is protected.