Marine applications of stainless steel have traditionally relied on the material’s corrosion resistance and strength. But when it comes to marine rescue vessels, safety is also a top priority.
Southport’s Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) is currently trialling an Australian innovation designed to enhance safety.
The Klein Architectural Grip (KAG) Rail, developed by ASSDA Accredited Fabricator Klein Architectural (Slacks Creek, Queensland), has permanent swages and ridges that fit the shape of a closed hand.
The ‘non-slip’ rail was originally designed for the industrial marine sector, where rails and workers’ hands are often wet and greasy, causing slippage on ladders.
In addition to the VMR, the rail is now being trialled on steep ladders at Wivenhoe Dam, Queensland and is suitable for use in a range of industries requiring a high level of safety, including mining, construction, heavy industrial, manufacturing, transport, oil and gas, power stations, and the aged care sector.
VMR Unit Training Co-ordinator Ken Gibbs said two Grade 316 rails were currently installed on their 8 metre Noosa Cat ‘Marine Rescue 2’ and had been tested in all types of weather conditions.
“We’ve got about 30 skippers who work in rotation and the feedback we’re getting is really positive,” Mr Gibbs said.
“The general consensus is that the rail offers superior holding capacity in both wet and dry conditions, without compromising strength.”
Mr Gibbs said during search and rescue operations, the weather was generally foul with water often taken over the bow of the vessel, making the hand rails slippery and testing both skipper and crew.
“Being able to fit our fingers into the ridges gives us a better grip and makes the operation much safer,” he said.
Klein Architectural Director Danny Klein said independent testing had shown the rail reduces handrail slippage by 80 per cent in comparison with regular stainless steel tube.
“The rail can also be fabricated in both left and right hand configurations, which would allow visually impaired people to identify in advance what a staircase is about to do,” Mr Klein said.
The KAG Rail is made to order and is available in a number of different stainless steel grades, depending on the application. The rails can be retro fitted or installed on new projects. Services such as water, electrical, air/gas and data can be hidden in the tube.
A patent is currently pending on the product, which complies with AS1428.1. Mr Klein said the Standard does not currently make particular reference to grip or slip, but the company was lobbying for this to be changed.
Klein Architectural Pty Ltd