It is mandatory in most nations to install fall arrest equipment to prevent fall injuries. If your staff is working at 6 feet and more above the next highest working surface, you are legally required to install fall arrest equipment that is designed to protect them from falling once they reach that height. Failure to observe this regulation could endanger your workers and put your company at the risk of attracting hefty OSHA fines.
The most important part of a fall arrest system is the anchorage connector where lanyards and harnesses are connected. However, for it to provide the expected protection whenever a situation warrants, it must be installed correctly and inspected regularly and properly. Below are a few tips for installing your first fall arrest anchor at a job site:
1. Follow Instructions on the User Manual
Reading the user’s manual is an important first step in installing your fall arrest anchor at a job site. You will be surprised how many people ignore the user’s manual. You cannot afford to make mistakes when installing a fall arrest anchor. Following the instructions laid out in the user’s manual will help you install the anchor correctly.
2. Inspect the Anchor Location
By now you know where exactly you want to install the fall arrest anchor. Thoroughly inspect the area to ensure that the structure is solid, sturdy, and strong enough to handle any fall situation. Make sure that the structure, rafters, and trusses are rot- and decay-free. The location of the anchor must be devoid of any weakness; otherwise, there is no need of having a strong anchor tied to a rickety structure that could crumble at the slightest hint of a fall.
3. Follow the OSHA Guidelines
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also abbreviated as OSHA, provides guidelines for a safe anchor in Section 1910.66. According to OSHA regulations, a safe anchorage point to which a personal fall arrest equipment is attached should be able to support a minimum tensile load per attached worker of 5,000 lbs. It must also be installed or designed for use as a complete personal fall arrest unit with a safety factor of not less than two, according to OSHA 1926.502. The installation should also be supervised by a professional. Besides, OSHA guidelines stipulate that the anchorage must be rigid with a deflection of not more than .04 inches (1 mm) under the weight of a 2,250 pounds (10 kN) force.
4. Ensure That the Fall Arrest Anchor Is Free of Defects
If you notice any defect, damage or a missing part on the fall arrest anchor, seek a replacement from the manufacturer. Always inspect a permanent fall arrest anchor before installation to ensure it has no defects or points of weakness. Always remember, in case of a fall, if the anchor does not hold, the toughest lanyard in the world will not offer any protection to a falling worker.
5. Provide a Fall Arrest Protection Course
At the end of the day, the most effective fall arrest system can only hold if you comprehensively train the personnel using it. Make it mandatory for all the workers to undergo training on how to gear up effectively.
Installing your first fall arrest anchor at a job site is not an easy task. The task should be left to a professional to ensure the installation is safe and done according to the required OSHA standards. Besides, to make sure the location (Anchorage) where the anchor will be attached to is solid and sturdy enough to handle 5000 lbs of falling weight, the anchor equipment itself must be free of defects.