Do you work in construction, maintenance, or enjoy painting large scale murals? Whatever it is you do that puts at risk for falling, you need to be safe. This means investing in high-quality safety equipment and taking the time to properly set up your gear.
The next most important item besides your quality protection gear is finding the right fall protection anchor points. Without a proper anchorage point, your protection gear is almost worthless. Properly using and securing your body harness and lanyard to a reliable anchor point will protect you from serious injuries. Finding the right anchorage point can be a challenge. However, we’re here to help make that task a little easier. Here’s everything you need to know about staying safe at great heights and choosing a fall protection anchorage point.
What are Fall Protection Anchor Points?
A fall protection anchor point is a secure place for you to attach your safety equipment. This equipment includes lifelines, deceleration gear, and lanyards.
Most buildings and construction equipment have anchor points for people to attach their safety gear, but not all anchor points are safe enough to use. Anchor points are only effective when installed into strong materials. Not all materials on a building are strong enough to withstand the sudden weight thrust upon them when a worker falls. An acceptable anchor point must hold up to 5,000lbs per worker attached.
When choosing an anchor point, the material you’re installing it to and how you plan to use it will dictate the type of anchor point you need. For example, you would use a different anchor point on a building or roof made of wood than you would a building made of cement.
Knowing What’s Not an Anchor Point
Places you should never attach an anchor point to are:
- Standard guardrails
- Light fixtures
- Roof stacks
While these may be tempting options for some, these items are not strong enough to hold a falling person. These items will bend, break, or fall when weight is suddenly placed upon them.
Main Types of Anchor Points
Engineered anchor points are anchor systems that go above OSHA requirements. You can find them for both permanent and temporary uses. Here’s a look at the main types of anchor points.
Engineered systems are fall protection systems that engineers inspect and certify to meet OSHA fall weight requirements. They are ready to use when purchased and don’t need any additional testing at the site. However, they do need regular inspections to ensure proper installation and maintenance.
Non-Engineered systems do not undergo engineer inspections to meet OSHA standards before use in the field. If your anchor points are not engineered systems, you will need an engineer to test them and certify that your anchor points are safe.
These easy-to-install anchors are best for use on a metal roof. You can attach them directly to the roof using screws and rivets. They are safe enough to use as a fall restraint or fall arrest.
As the name suggests, concrete mounts attach to cement materials. They attach with a chemical fix and/or a torque anchor. They are strong enough for safety from falls and rappelling.
Surface Mount for Rappelling
If you need to rappel over the side of a building, a surface mount is a good choice. They attach to metal cladding and are strong enough for both falls and rappelling on the sides of high-rise buildings.
Temporary Anchor Points
Buildings without permanent anchor points will require you to use a temporary anchor point. These attach to the roof of a building to provide you with fall safety while you work. While they are strong enough for falls, they’re not ideal for rappelling.
Reusable Anchor Points
These refer to permanent anchors that are multi-functional for fall safety and rappelling. To reuse these, they require maintenance to ensure they are safe enough to use. This requires regular checkups and certifications for them to be safe for use.
The materials that make up the roof of a building will dictate the type of anchor points you will need. Failing to use the right type of anchor point on a particular material can cause your fall protection system to fail.
Choosing the Proper Fall Protection Anchor Points
When choosing the proper roof fall protection anchor points for your next job, you need to know where you’re using them and how you’ll use them. In most cases, especially if you’re unsure, you’ll need to have an engineer inspect and approve areas to use as anchor points.
Using The I-Beam
One of the strongest places in a building is the I-beams. Most often made of steel, I-beams in buildings are usually used as columns and support beams. Since they can withstand and support a variety of weights, they can usually meet OSHA’s 5,000lbs safety standard.
Commercial roofs can come equipped with great places to attach anchor points or be flat and featureless. Permanent and temporary anchor points can work well on a commercial roof. Both will need to pierce through the roof to attach.
Adding a permanent anchor point to a building is a worthwhile investment as others can use it for building maintenance, cleaning, and more. Other options include parapet clamps and portable dead-weight fall anchor points.
Both permanent and temporary fall protection anchor points can attach to residential roofs. There are anchor points designed for wood, tile, and shingled roofs. Some newer homes have anchor points built into and left on the roofs for later maintenance and repair work.
Standing Seam Roofs
If you’ll be working on a building with a standing seam roof, it’s unlikely the building owners will like you drilling into their roof to install permanent anchor points. In this case, clamp anchors and non-penetrating anchor points are available for use.
Be Smart! Choose Safe Anchor Points
No matter what type of building you’re working on, there are safe and reliable fall protection anchor points for you to use. By knowing the materials you’re attaching them to and meeting OSHA standards, your fall anchor points will be safe. If you’re ever in doubt, always have a certified engineer check your fall protection system.
Do you need gear for your next project? Contact us to learn more about our high-quality fall safety gear.