Sapsis Rigging recently completed the installation of a fall arrest system for the Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC) located in downtown Philadelphia.

The system was put into the Grand Hall, a space that occupies the renovated Reading Terminal Trainshed, the oldest surviving single-span arched trainshed structure in the world, and the only one of its kind remaining in the United States. The hall is used for parties and events as well as a space for larger exhibitions.

“Originally it was not meant for events; it was an entrance lobby. It’s a great space,” comments Bob Lester, director of engineering for PCC. “People like the space so much that they hold events in there. The bigger shows use the space as well; the largest is the autoshow, and since there is not a lot of lighting in there, they bring in their own. That is why this project was needed because people are up there doing a lot of rigging to get those lights hung.”

Mike Yocum, project manager for Sapsis Rigging was in charge of the installation. “We designed it and manufactured it ourselves at Sapsis,” says Yocum. “We installed a fall arrest system for 44 purlins and five main arches” says Allison Helms, safety coordinator for Sapsis Rigging. “This entailed 44 horizontal lifelines, eight self-retracting vertical lifelines, and five arched lifelines." The installation was completed in 11 days in March.

The biggest challenge of the project was working with the historic 120-year-old building itself, according to Yocum. “The original facility was started in 1886. Virtually every location on the steel where we put an anchor in for the lifelines is different in size or thickness," he explains. "In addition, there is the fact that when the whole building was restored some repairs were done to the steel, which increased the size of steel in some areas. Every place I went to install something was realistically an unknown. You had to presume it was going to be different.”

"[Sapsis Rigging] did a good job; it was a difficult room to work with and they got it done fairly quickly. It is going to work for all of the people that have to work up in that area. I am happy with the results,” concludes Lester.