When it comes to investing in and installing fall arrest equipment, how to safely anchor the system can be one of the most difficult and confusing decisions. Even the most comfortable harness and a maximum shock-absorbing design can be useless if the anchorage device is not designed to withstand the load associated with a fall. Luckily, we’ve set out to answer five of the most common questions around anchorage — keeping both your workers and your products safe and secure.
1. What is an Anchorage? An anchorage is a secure point to attach a lifeline, lanyard, deceleration device or any other fall arrest or rescue system. Anchorage points include structural steel members, pre-cast concrete beams, and wooden trusses. Anchor points can also be certified (Engineered) or non-certified but all anchor points should be confirmed by an engineer.
2. What do I need for proper anchorage? An anchorage connector (or an anchor). An anchorage connector is a piece of equipment used as a safe means of attachment for the lanyard or lifeline to the anchorage, such as cable and synthetic slings, roof anchors, trolleys, and beam clamps.
3. Where is the anchorage connector installed? That depends. Every workplace is different but there are some common places to avoid installing the anchor. Generally, anchor points at feet level significantly increase the free fall distance in the event of a fall. As such it’s best not to install them at that height. Likewise, anchors located directly to the side of the work area can increase the danger of “swing falls” where the user swings to the attachment point should a fall occur. If a wall or other structure is in the area, the system may arrest the fall but cause injuries as the worker crashes into the obstacle directly below the anchorage point. When installing an anchor it is best to consult a fall protection expert, such as a structural engineer, who can correctly identify the proper anchor points for each unique workplace.
4. What’s new in the marketplace? One of the newest advances in the market are enclosed track systems that are designed with the work being performed in mind. These systems are normally installed overhead and feature a smooth running trolley that runs inside the track in order to keep the anchorage point directly overhead. Many times these systems are utilized in the same areas as material handling cranes. As such, different product options offering some movability are available. These systems can be moved out of the way when not in use if an obstruction exists to allow complete mobility for the material handling crane. Systems can be also customized with multiple track configurations to allow workers to pass one another as needed so that productivity is kept at maximum levels.
5. What can I use to make it easier? There are a number of products on the market designed to provide proper anchorage support — from fall arrest trolleys that ride along a standard I-Beam, to rigid rail and enclosed track systems. To make selection as easy as possible, Gorbel offers a free anchorage assessment to help eliminate any confusion regarding which anchorage connector to use.
If your workers are currently tying off to ladder rungs, piping or other items not built for fall arrest, take the anchorage assessment and be on your way to a safer, more productive workplace.
Kevin Duhamel is a North American product sales manager with Gorbel Inc. Kevin has more than 15 years of safety industry experience and expertise and has specialized in fall protection since 2008. He is a certified fall protection– competent trainer and inspector.