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Be Smart and Safe: Use Fall Arrest Anchors

By Adriana J. Noton

Safety must be the first consideration when working on roofs or window washing on high-rise buildings, so it is essential to be familiar with fall arrest anchors and window-washing equipment designed to prevent falling. There are many different types of safety equipment available. Some, such as tieback anchors, are attached to the structure as a permanent part of the building. Others, such as roof walks, are intended for temporary use, and are installed only for as long as it takes to complete the project.

Falling is the primary cause of death on construction sites throughout the United States, resulting in dozens of deaths annually. Accidents such as these are responsible for more than 100,000 injuries on construction jobs every year. To address these issues, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established regulations for safety equipment that apply throughout the country. OSHA considers there to be a danger of accidental falls any time a worker is working four feet (1.2 meters) or more off the ground.

In addition to the OSHA regulations, with which compliance is required, recommendations for safe work site standards are made by ANSI (American National Standards Institute). The applicable ANSI recommendations are listed in ANSI Z359.

OSHA recently issued new standards governing fall arrest and window washing equipment. For builders and roofers working on residential properties that information is found under Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)1926.501(b)(13). Construction companies must comply with the new rules no later than June 16, 2011. OSHA provides compliance literature, training materials, and webinars (seminars presented on the internet) for small businesses.

There are two approaches to dealing with construction site falling hazards: Either eliminate the hazard or provide appropriate protection. Sometimes eliminating the danger is not an option. The best alternative in such situations is to provide personal protection equipment. Every project and every work site is unique, so it is imperative to look at every possible means of preventing falls.

Fall arrest anchors or roof anchors are attached permanently to the roof. Anchor posts can be installed on a variety of roof types including wood, concrete, standing seam, membrane, built-up, and metal sheathing. It helps mitigate the danger by rotating in the direction of the fall to absorb and reduce the pull. It is useful for roof maintenance or inspection, especially for HVAC systems, vent fans, air conditioning, and solar panels; for cleaning skylights; for cleaning rain gutters; and for installing satellite dishes.

Personal protection equipment consists of body belts and full-body harnesses; a body belt is used with a full-body harness. Belts used by telephone or cable linemen may be fixed, semi-floating or free-floating.

The harness or belt is linked to a connecting device which can be a shock-absorbing lanyard, a retractable lifeline, or a tie-back lanyard, that connects the body harness or belt to the fall arrest anchor. It is essential to factor in the possible fall distance in deciding which connector to choose. That decision is determined by the type of work that is being done and the work environment at each individual work site.

About the Author: Contractors seeking to address their Fall Arrest Anchor options would be hard-pressed to find a better one-stop solution for all of their design, engineering, installation and inspection needs.


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