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Anchor Point

By: Tabitha Mishra
| Last updated: May 3, 2019

What Does Anchor Point Mean?

An anchor point is a secure point of attachment workers can fasten themselves to while working at heights. To serve this purpose, it must allow a safety harness or lifeline to be tied, fastened, or otherwise connected to it. It must also be stable and capable of supporting the weight of a worker and withstand the force of a falling worker.

An anchor point is one of the components of a personal fall arrest system (PFAS)

Anchor points are also known as anchorage.

Safeopedia Explains Anchor Point

The use of anchor points is addressed in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) fall protection safety regulations, which rely on quality standards for fall protection equipment that are set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI standard Z359.18 governs the specifications that anchoring devices must meet to qualify as part of an OSHA-compliant anchor point.

OSHA 1910.140(b) defines anchorage as "a secure point of attachment for equipment such as lifelines, lanyards, or deceleration devices”.

The ABCs of Fall Arrest

Anchor points are one of the three basic components of a personal fall arrest system:

  • A: Anchorage - a secure point of attachment
  • B: Body support - a safety harness strapped to the user's body
  • C: Connectors - the devices that attach the user's harness to the anchor point

Certified and Non-certified Anchorages

Anchor points are usually installed on roofs, where they can be connected with lanyards, lifelines, and other forms of tie-offs. The anchor points may be a D-ring connection or a complete lifeline system.

Anchor points used in US workplaces are divided into two different categories:

  • Certified anchorages, which are installed by certified engineers. OSHA 1910.140(c) (13)(ii) requires that certified anchor points be able to support two times the load applied to the anchor point in the event of a fall (typically 1,800 to 2,400 pounds).
  • Non-certified anchorages are installed by non-engineers who meet OSHA's criteria for a "competent person." Non-certified anchorages are covered under OSHA 1910.140(c) (13)(i), which states that all such anchor points must be able to support at least 5,000 pounds of weight for every employee attached to the anchor point.

The main difference between each type of anchorage is the weight requirement. Certified anchorages have lower weight requirements since they are installed by engineers who have the qualifications needed to calculate the load requirement for any given anchor point. Non-certified anchorages, on the other hand, have a higher weight requirement in order to essentially fool-proof the anchor point by allowing significant room for error. This ensures that the anchorage can withstand the force of a fall, even if the person installing it makes a mistake when calculating the load limit.

The Three Basic Types of Anchor Systems

The Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) lists three basic types of anchor systems for fall protection:

  • Designed or permanent fixed support: load-rated anchorage connectors permanently installed in the building structure to anchor PFAS, work positioning systems, and travel-restraint systems.
  • Temporary fixed support: anchorage designed to connect to a structure for temporary use, such as nail-on anchors used by roofers, wire rope slings, synthetic webbing slings, I-beam sliders, and clamps
  • Existing structural features: features of the work environment that were not intended as anchorage but are strong and secure enough to serve as anchor points (these must be inspected and approved by a professional engineer or qualified person before use)



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