Finding the right anchor point for your fall arrest system is an intricate affair. It is not just as straightforward as getting a solid hold on which to affix your lanyard. It requires thorough knowledge of the weight and force that will be exerted on the anchor point.
You will also need to understand the anchor type that you can safely connect your lanyard to, and a host of other tasks you will be required to perform in order to have all critical components work as they should. The following three tips should help:
1. Use Sturdy Beams
Your anchor point must be held in place by a sturdy beam that is able to withstand at least 5000 lbs force for every person attached to it. This should be at least twice the force that would be exerted on it in case of a fall. To establish if an anchor will hold, get a qualified engineer to make sure it is foolproof. In most cases, I-Beams are the most ideal. But they don’t work alone. You will need to have your workers properly geared safely connected to the anchor point.
It’s important to ensure that every component is properly affixed and working as it should. No matter how sturdy your beams are, a failure in any one of the components could lead to a disastrous outcome.
2. Get an Engineered System
Engineered systems come in many types. These include mobile anchor points, horizontal lifelines, permanently installed anchor points, among many others. The beauty of engineered systems is that they are tested and passed as effective. They are designed by engineers to arrest different fall scenarios.
Horizontal lifelines, although a bit expensive, allow workers to move freely and can be customized to any configuration. They also minimize tripping. Since they feature a highly detailed design, they should be installed by qualified professionals. They are therefore suited for long-term projects or permanent installation.
You may also consider using portable anchor points, which come in different types such as counterweighted systems and rolling roofing carts. These anchor points are ideally suited for short-term intermittent tasks at various heights. They are easy to disassemble and reassemble at short notice and can be carted by one or two people.
Permanently engineered anchor points are attached to structural steel. They are ideal for onsite situations where workers are restricted to work at a specific radius from the permanent anchor point.
However failsafe an anchor system is, it won’t help if workers are not properly trained to gear up and use it correctly. If the straps are poorly affixed, the anchor will hold, but a worker disengaged from it won’t. The workers need to be trained not only on the effective use of the anchor point but also on how to gear up properly. Workers will need to know how many people it can withstand, how to tie to it correctly, etc. In case of a fall, the most effective anchor point will only work if the workers are adequately trained on how to use it properly. Don’t just hand a fall arrest gear to your workers without training them on its effective use. Get a professional to take them through the process of gearing up.
Selecting the right fall arrest anchors is crucial. In some cases, it can be the difference between life and death. To prevent accidents from occurring, selecting the appropriate anchor point and ensuring proper installation and usage of your lanyard is very important. This is because, in most cases, when your fall arrest system fails, it’s often too late. At the end of the day, the safety of your workers comes down to the selection of the right anchor point and training them how to use it appropriately.