Climbing onto the roof


Übach-Palenberg, 28.03.2018. KTG Railservice in Duisburg maintains and repairs rail vehicles. To do this, technicians regularly climb onto the roofs of locomotives and wagons, which requires careful precautions. SpanSet's Safeline HT-8 horizontal safety device protects people while still allowing them plenty of freedom of movement. And it ensures that no one "gets on the roof" of the service provider KTG in terms of operator responsibility.


In mid-2017, KTG Railservice moved into its new workshop in Duisburg's Inner Harbor. The maintenance provider for rail vehicles maintains and repairs locomotives with electric and diesel drives. To do this, the technicians often have to go up on the roof and therefore need protection against falling. It has long been known in FM circles that this is absolutely essential.


Not to be underestimated: Operator responsibility 

The keyword is: operator responsibility. The legal situation has been tightened in recent years. Every operator of buildings and technical facilities faces massive consequences if he does not take sufficient precautions to prevent accidents. The same applies to employers and to persons who provide workplaces or work equipment. An intentional or negligent breach of duty can result in a fine or termination of an employee's contract. Even occupational bans and imprisonment are possible.


State-of-the-art technology is mandatory

Operators generally have a duty to set up devices and equipment in such a way that they do not pose a risk to life and health. This includes fall and construction site safety. The relevant regulations in this context include GEFMA Guideline 190 "Operator Responsibility", Section 15 of the German Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (BetrSichV) and VDI Guideline 3810 Sheet 1.1.


With regard to the BetrSichV, attorney Hartmut Hardt emphasizes on the VDI homepage that the legislator demands "the latest state of the art and its compliance". If the responsible person complies with this, he can assume that the protection of the health and safety of a person is considered to be assured. "Comparable procedures, operating methods or equipment serve to assess the state of the art, provided they have already proven their practical suitability."


Personal protective equipment against falls from a height

Back to KTG Railservice. Before moving into the new hall in the Port of Duisburg in summer 2017, the company used an older depot a few kilometers away. Although it was smaller, it essentially performed the same tasks as its successor. Even there, the technicians and fitters relied on personal protective equipment against falls from a height (PPEgA) when working at heights. 


"Alternatively, you can build scaffolding around the locomotives," says KTG operations manager Günter Mehrholz, but waves it off in the same breath: "Scaffolding like that can't be moved with the locomotive and is therefore inflexible in use." Moreover, Mehrholz points out that there are treacherous height differences on the roofs of some electric or diesel locomotives, which can become a hazard for unsecured fitters. Compared to a guardrail, a PPEgA proves more effective here. In addition, there is always the risk that the tractor unit may already get a scratch during scaffold erection, as they say here in the Ruhr area. Anyone who has ever returned a leased car to the dealer after the lease term knows what renegotiation scratches on the outer shell of a leased vehicle mean: You're asked to pay for each defect individually. 


More freedom of movement

So it's better to have a PSAgA. As in the previous hall, KTG opted for Safeline HT-8 from SpanSet. "The advantage of this wire rope-based horizontal fall arrest system is that it practically does not restrict the user's freedom of movement," explains SpanSet application engineer Jörg Scheilen. The runners follow the fitter as he works at height and secure any fall within a defined cone of action. And this for up to four people with a maximum body weight of 140 kilograms each.

50 meters without intermediate holder 

HT-8 is a permanent securing system. It is installed once and is permanently available. A particular challenge during installation was that the system had to bridge 50 meters without intermediate supports. Irreversible changes in the hall had been ruled out by the landlord from the outset. 


The SpanSet product is designed for 40 meters as standard. Taking into account the relatively low camber height - locomotives are around 4.50 meters high - the system was calculated for a span of 50 meters. The steel cable runs longitudinally through the hall. It was attached at one end to a steel support. The other end was mounted to a steel girder above the entrance gate. The tensioning device of the HT-8 allows a pretension of up to 400 daN (around 400 kilograms) with the result that the rope sags only minimally. 


"All in all, with the SpanSet solution we have opted for a contemporary safety device that on the one hand protects our people and on the other hand hardly restricts their range of movement," says Mehrholz. And - this is also important: In terms of operator responsibility, no one can "climb on the roof" of the rail service provider.


[Infobox 1]


"Operator responsibility" in brief

• Rooms, devices and equipment must be set up in such a way that they do not pose a risk to life and health.

• Operator responsibility is borne by the owners and operators of buildings with building services equipment as well as by employers and persons who provide workplaces or work equipment.

• Violation of the obligations can result in fines, dismissal, occupational ban and imprisonment.

• The relevant regulations include GEFMA Guideline 190 "Operator Responsibility", Section 15 of the German Ordinance on Industrial Safety and Health (BetrSichV), and VDI Guideline 3810 Sheet 1.1 - "Operation and Maintenance of Technical Building Systems - Operator Responsibility".

• TÜV Rheinland has published a 28-page information brochure on this topic entitled "Operator responsibility. The most important facts at a glance", including a checklist. Enter the search term "operator responsibility" at 


[Infobox 2]


Here's what you should bear in mind as an FM manager

An operator can delegate his operator responsibilities to specialized employees or outsiders, for example under an FM contract. However, a complete release of the operator from any responsibility is out of the question. The following must be observed:

• clear definition of the delegated duties

• careful selection of the assigned employee or service provider

• his equipment with the necessary means and competences

• his careful instruction and supervision 


[Infobox 3]


Horizontal securing device Safeline HT-8 from SpanSet

• two fastening points on opposite hall walls or on the ceiling are sufficient

• span of 40 meters without intermediate support (in the specific case even 50 meters)

• Prestressing of around 400 kilograms

• tested according to EN 795:2012 anchor devices type C

• Meets requirements of PD CEN/TS 16415:2013 for protective systems





Fig. 1: The service provider KTG Railservice maintains and repairs rail vehicles in the Port of Duisburg. [download]


Fig. 2: The Safeline HT-8 horizontal guarding system from SpanSet gives fitters plenty of freedom of movement. [download]


Fig. 3: The HT-8 offers maximum safety with the greatest freedom of movement. [download]


Fig. 4: A fall arrester protects the system and the building structure. [download]


Fig. 5: The retractable type fall arrester is hooked into a roller runner. [download]