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Safety Considerations to Know for Utility Transloading

Transloading is a key step for utility projects. Also known as rail-car unloading, it is the process of moving the utility poles from rail-car to trucks for final transport.

Rail transport helps keeps the transportation cost of utility materials down, which is why it is still so commonly used. This just means that you’ll need the help of a transloading company to get your materials to your material yard.

Even though this process is critical, it can be very dangerous. In fact, there are several important safety considerations to be aware of for utility transloading.

Keep reading for more information.

Employee Injury

Transloading utility equipment involves a lot of manual labor. Workers must operate huge machinery and secure the large poles and pipes. Therefore, there is a high risk of injury during this process.

Some of the top risks that workers face include:

  • Falling from equipment

  • Getting hit by materials

  • Inhaling toxic substances

  • Strains

The best transloading companies demonstrate a commitment to safety to reduce the chances of employee injury. They ensure all equipment is up-to-date with maintenance and service. Additionally, they hire quality workers and provide ample safety training. Following important safety measures helps improve safety for workers.

Equipment Damage

In addition to the workers, the equipment on the rail lines is also at risk when transloading utility materials. Human error or accidents can lead to equipment damage and tank car issues.

Just as companies must work to mitigate the risk to people, they must also keep the safety of equipment and materials in mind. They should follow key safety precautions to minimize the chances of accidents or equipment damage.

Transloading Safety Protocol

Fortunately, transloading companies have some important rules to follow. The Federal Railroad Administration created helpful rules for worker safety. Here’s a breakdown of the rules they have:

  • Lock at least one wheel on each rail car from moving in both directions.

  • Set up hand brakes to hold the rail cars in position.

  • One employee needs a clear view of the operation during product transfer. Alternatively, the employee can watch on a monitoring system. This person must immediately notify the team if they notice a malfunction or safety threat.

  • Turn warning lights on when moving the rail car.

  • Test the bell, brakes, and horn before moving the railcar.

  • Workers should not place their body parts at the point of operation of a machine.

  • Be prepared for the rail car and equipment to move at any time in any direction.

Safety Equipment

Installing the proper safety equipment also helps reduce the chances of worker strain or injury. The goal of this equipment is to mitigate the risk of falls or other hazards.

Of course, all equipment must be properly installed and maintained. It should only be used as the manufacturer intends, not modified. Furthermore, the team should be trained on how to use the equipment.

Here are some examples of safety equipment to use during transloading:

  • Loading racks to provide safe access.

  • Portable access platforms and carts for transloading.

  • Hand-rail systems on the railcars.

  • Cages to prevent falls.

  • Skid system for loading/unloading.

  • Bottom-loading arms.

Consider Unloading at the Material Yard

Another safety consideration of utilty transloading is unloading your utility poles at your job site. Far too many hauling companies leave this task up to you. In the end, utility managers often need to hire additional help and rent heavy, dangerous machinery just to unload their poles.

Having to unload your own poles often requires you to hire a rigger. Riggers work very closely with the poles, dealing with the straps to unload them. This role is incredibly dangerous and adds great risk to your job site.

The best solution is to choose a self-unloading rail-car transport company like Blackwood Resources. We handle unloading for you, so you won’t need to rent equipment and put your team at risk. Our highly-trained drivers and operators leverage our specialized trucks to unload your utility poles in no time. This is one of the best ways to keep your team safe.

Blackwood Resources is Here to Help

From rail-car unloading to utilty pole hauling, Blackwood Resources is your top solution. Our dedicated team is here to help with your utility hauling needs.

Using our specialty hauling trucks, we load and unload:

  • Wood poles

  • Concrete pole

  • Steel poles

  • Utilty transformers

  • Utility pipes

Turn to us for your rail-car unloading needs. We have years of experience off-loading rail cars and bringing utility materials to their final destination. You can count on our professional team to handle the job with care.

Learn more about our services and how we can help with your next utility project today. Contact the Blackwood Resources team at or 812-676-8770 today!



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