How to Choose Your Fall Protection Anchorage
Selecting the right anchorage is an important part of ensuring your fall protection system is maximally effective.
Why is choosing the right anchorage for a personal fall arrest system so important to your safety? Even with the latest in fall protection systems – including those utilizing foot-level tie-off rated energy absorbers – if the anchor fails, that state-of-the-art system won't matter.
Anchors As Part of Your Fall Protection System
First, let's establish an understanding of what comprises an anchorage system. There are two critical components – the anchorage and the anchorage connector. The anchorage is that structural element adjacent to the fall hazard upon which you will rely for the purpose of securing your personal fall arrest system. The anchorage connector is that element, component, or product which is affixed to the anchorage in order to establish a "tie-off point" to which you will attach your connecting device (lanyard, self-retracting device, and so on). The distinction between these two terms is critical, as they are commonly used interchangeably.
The first step in choosing the right anchorage for your fall arrest system begins with treating the anchorage as a vital component of that system, not as a separate component.
According to OSHA, employers must, to the degree possible, eliminate workplace hazards that could cause an employee to fall. This includes falling from overhead platforms, elevated work stations, or into holes in the floor and walls. In the event that these hazards cannot be eliminated, employees must have access to the right kind of anchorages and must also know how to identify them (for related reading, see The Hierarchy of Hazard Controls).
Fall protection was at the top of the list of OSHA violations for 2016. That's why it's important for employers to give serious attention to. Anchorage plays a critical part in the outcome of most fall protection scenarios, as the elevation of the anchorage above the walking-working surface is a primary component of determining and managing available clearances (find out how much clearance you need to use a Leading Edge SRL).
To select the right anchorage, there are a few helpful things to keep in mind. First, consider the purpose. You should also consider the materials used in the fall protection system, including the anchorage connector. Most importantly, keep in mind the structure to which the anchorage is attached.
According to the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA), there are three basic types of anchor systems for fall protection:
- Designed Fixed Support – These are load-rated anchorage connectors permanently installed in the building structure. They're designed specifically for fall protection purposes. They can be used to anchor fall arrest systems, work-positioning systems, and travel-restraint systems. But, the installed support must comply with industry standards and regulations.
- Temporary Fixed Support – These anchorage connectors connect to the structure. An example would include nail-on anchors and beam clamps. These are temporary supports, and not designed as part of the building. So, they must meet strict guidelines for the amount of weight and stress they can handle.
- Existing Structural Features – These include equipment not intended as anchorage. A professional engineer or qualified person must verify that the equipment has adequate capacity to serve as an anchorage.
Requirements for Temporary Fixed Anchor Points
The weight support requirement for temporary fixed anchor points varies. It depends on the type of fall protection system anchored to it.
The OSHA standard states:
“Anchorages used for attachment of personal fall arrest equipment shall be…capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN) per employee attached, or shall be designed, installed, and used as follows: as part of a complete personal fall arrest system which maintains a safety factor of at least two” [29 CFR 1926.502(d)(15) and (d)(15)(i)]
According to the requirements of ANSI/ASSE Z359.2 and Z359.6, the following guidance applies:
- Fall Arrest Anchorage: 5,000 lbs or twice the expected impact load
- Fall Restraint Anchorage (Travel Restriction): 1,000 lbs or twice the expected impact load
- Work Positioning System: 3,000 lbs or twice the expected impact load
In all cases, a safety factor of at least two should be applied when determining the minimum load that an anchorage point must support. As a general rule, choose an anchor capable of supporting the weight of a small car (about 3,600 pounds) in the case of a certified anchorage approved by a qualified person or engineer.
You may choose an existing structural feature or equipment as an anchor point. If so, avoid corners or edges that could fray or cut the lines.
Inspect every part of your fall protection system daily before use, using manufacturer’s instructions as a guide. This includes anchorages and anchorage Connectors. Employees should be trained on how to thoroughly inspect their fall protection equipment. Also, be sure to schedule regular inspections. Having a variety of inspectors take a careful look at the fall protection systems and anchorages is beneficial. It will give extra confidence to the employees who use them.
Sometimes, an inspection will reveal defects, inadequate maintenance, or unsafe conditions. If this is the case, remove the equipment from service immediately. Remove any equipment subjected to the forces of an arrested fall immediately as well. Only the manufacturer, or entities authorized in writing by the manufacturer, may make repairs to the product.
OSHA acknowledges that in some cases, anchorages are identified and anchorage connectors are installed right before use on the job site. When that happens, only competent persons should select the anchorage and install the anchorage connector.
|Free Download: Construction Fall Safety Checklist|
Anchorages to Avoid
It can be difficult to find a sturdy and convenient anchorage. This may tempt you to use a makeshift anchorage so you can get on with the work. Never settle for these or allow anyone else to use them. It's not worth the risk.
Never use these items as anchors:
- Small pipes
- Scaffolding (unless approved by a qualified person)
- TV antennas
- Ladders (unless approved by a qualified person)
- Anything damaged by wear or weather
Making the Right Choice
Fall hazards are common at construction worksites, but fall-related injuries and fatalities are preventable. Choosing the right anchorage and anchorage connector is just one part of fall prevention. It's important to focus on guardrails, restraint systems, and other fall prevention methods. This should never be to the exclusion of proper anchorage.
Knowing how to choose the right anchorage is an important part of an effective fall protection system. More importantly, it ensures that every employee will get home safely.
Check out the rest of our content about Personal Protective Equipment here.
More from AD Safety Network
- When should you consider using custom molded earplugs?
- At what height do falls become deadly?
- Who should be responsible for rescuing fallen workers?
- What kind of training do loading dock workers need?
- How often should I inspect a loading dock?
- How is wind chill calculated?
- What is the difference between occupational safety and process safety?
- Why should rubber insulating gloves be tested?
- What happens if I tie off at the foot level with a personal SRL?
- Why is testing with a NAIL4PET accredited lab important?
- What kind of face protection do I need when using a chainsaw?
- What is the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica?
- What is silica and why is it hazardous?
- What is 'Table 1' and why is it so important?
- Video Q&A - What is a safety policy?
- What kind of fire extinguisher is best for your work site?
- How do I choose the right respirator and mask for working with silica?
- Can I wear fall protection equipment over my rainwear or winter gear?
- When do I need a cage ladder?
- What types of gloves protect your hands from hazardous chemicals?
- How come I still got hurt while wearing flame-resistant clothing?
- What dangers do workers face when working outside in the winter?
- How do I win over my most reluctant employees?
- What kinds of jobs should use disposable safety gloves?
- Is it true that safety shouldn't be a top priority?
- When are employers allowed to conduct drug and alcohol tests on their employees?
- How can I get employees more involved in the risk assessment plan?
- What are some of the indirect costs of workplace accidents?
- How often do fire extinguishers need to be inspected?
- What is the best way to store rubber safety gloves?
- How much voltage protection is needed for safety gloves used in electrical work?
- What is the difference between a safety valve and a release valve?
- When do workers have the right to refuse to work?
- What is the most overlooked item when designing Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures?
- What are some of the misconceptions about heat stress and what should we do to address them?
- What tools should I tether when working at heights?
- What types of gas should I watch out for when working in a confined space?
- How do you create a culture of safety in your workplace?
- What is the difference between industrial safety and industrial hygiene?
- Is it important to get PPE assessments by trained professionals?
- What is a fault tree analysis?
- What kind of respirator cartridge should I use?
- What are the safety benefits of a whistleblower program?
- What type of safety record-keeping and recording should we be doing?
- What makes a hi-vis safety vest ANSI compliant?
- Why is it important to have air sampling done to determine my PELs?
- What is the life expectancy of fall protection equipment?
- What are some basic fall protection rules that each of my workers need to understand?
- How much clearance do I need to safely use a Leading Edge SRL?
- What is the difference between an acute hazard and a chronic hazard?
- What’s the difference between a bump test, a calibration check, and a full calibration?
- Is there any legislation regulating lone worker safety I should know about before hiring?
- What kind of fire extinguisher and accessories should be kept on hand on a factory floor?
- What can companies do to reduce their lost time injury frequency rates?
- Video Q&A - What's your safety network like?
- Video Q&A - What are the 3 levels of safety?
- Video Q&A - How do you treat a near miss?
- Does body weight affect falls differently?
- What ages are most affected by falls?
- Why do workers take risks?
- What Is the Difference Between OHSAS 18001 and 18002?
- What is the difference between lost time injury and medical treatment case?
- What is the difference between occupational health and safety and workplace health and safety?
- What is the difference between occupational health and occupational safety?
- What is the difference between a lost time injury and a disabling injury?