Good vs. Bad Anchor Points

Make sure that you are only using good anchor points when working at heights because bad anchor points can lead to injury and death. Anchor points are the part of a fall arrest system that the harness and lanyard are connected to, also referred to as a tie-off point. The worker’s harness is connected to a lanyard, which is connected to the anchor point; the anchor point will have to bear the full weight of the falling worker, and the force generated by the fall. If the anchor point fails, then the falling worker will most likely make contact with the lower level, resulting in injury or even death. See what makes a good anchor point and a bad anchor point below. Good and Bad Anchor Points Many workers think that anything that looks sturdy can serve as an anchor point, but most features are not made to withstand the force of a fall. According to OSHA, an anchor point must be rated to withstand 5,000 pounds per worker. It may sound like a lot of weight, but a worker weighing just a bit over 200 pounds—don’t forget to add in the weight of work boots, clothing, PPE, and tools attached to the worker—can generate over 2,500 pounds of force after falling just five feet. Factoring in a safety factor of 2:1 leads to the 5,000-pound rule. This means that most features found while working at height are not strong enough to serve as an anchor point. Bad anchor points include:
  • Overhead pipe
  • Ductwork
  • Rails on a platform
  • Standard guardrails
  • Standard railings
  • Light fixtures
  • Roof stack vents
Any of the above bad anchor points could result in injury or death if a worker was to fall. Good anchor points are those that have been designed as an anchor point and rated to 5,000 pounds, or one that has been designed by a qualified person as part of a total personal fall arrest system that maintains a safety factor of at least two. Per OSHA, a safety factor is “an additional distance added to the total fall clearance distance to ensure there is enough clearance between the worker and the lower level after a fall;” OSHA maintains this as usually two feet. Additionally, the anchor point cannot be part of any anchorage already being used to support or suspend platforms. Good anchor points include:
  • Permanent anchor points that are engineered and certified to be used as such
  • Devices manufactured to be used as temporary anchor points. These include an anchorage connector, like anchor strap/slings or wire rope slings, and an anchorage structure that is strong, secure, and immobile, like a secured I-beam
  • Beam clamp
  • Hinged steel roof anchor
Safe Keeper carries an array of anchorage options, such as our choker style pass through anchor straps, wire rope slings, available in various lengths, and our hinged steel roof anchor! We also offer a comprehensive array of fall protection products and accessories.
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