Fall protection anchor points are an important part of a personal fall protection system. The purpose of installing roof anchor points is to safely connect lifelines and lanyards to prevent workers from fall hazards. Sometimes there is confusion about anchor points for fall protection and roof anchor testing requirements for OSHA compliance.
Specifically, considerations include anchorage design, how often roof anchors need testing, to what load, and who can do the testing. It is also important to comply with OSHA roof anchor fall protection requirements. We’ll provide information about these confusions and considerations regarding roof anchors and roof anchor testing requirements below.
Let’s begin with defining what a fall protection anchor point is before we go into fall protection anchor point requirements.
What Is a Fall Protection Anchor?
A fall protection anchor for work at heights is a secure attachment to attach lanyards, lifelines, or other forms of tie-off to a body harness for fall arrest or fall restraint purposes.
Further, window washers or other maintenance workers may use roof anchors. As such, roof anchors can involve a D-ring connection or a complete lifeline system.
Components of a roof anchor must have a design strength that equals or exceeds the required strength. The strength of a roof anchor depends on several factors which include the anchor’s design and condition of the anchor. Another factor involves the orientation of the anchor relative to the loading direction. It also matters how the roof anchor connects to the supporting structure.
OSHA Roof Anchor Fall Protection Requirements:
To What Load?
According to OSHA general industry standard 1910.140(c)(13), anchorages must be “capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN) per employee attached; or designed, installed, and used, under the supervision of a qualified person, as part of a complete personal fall protection system that maintains a safety factor of at least two.”
Notice a fall protection anchor must be able to support a load of 5,000 pounds. The appropriate installation of the roof anchor is critical for the ability of the anchor to withstand the load. EDGE FP offers turnkey installations. If you prefer to leave the details and concerns of installation to us, we can send our team of professional installers directly to your job site or facility.
What does OSHA’s 1910.140(c)(13) standard mean by a “personal fall protection system that maintains a safety factor of at least two”? First, note the requirement of engineered fall arrest systems to “limit the maximum arresting force on the employee to 1,800 pounds (8 kN) by OSHA standard 1910.140(d)(1)(i). A properly installed fall protection system must maintain a safety factor of at least two times the maximum arresting force (MAF), in this case, two times 1,800 pounds, which is 3,600 pounds.
There is no requirement for load or pull testing to verify this 5,000 pounds or to verify a safety factor of two. Even if a pull test to 5,000 pounds is done, the anchor may be damaged during the testing process and therefore needs to be removed and replaced. While anchorages need to be tested as part of the certification process, considerations need to be made about the materials, manufacturing process, anchor point geometry, and how the anchor connects to the existing structure.
Keep in mind that there are two main types of load testing applicable to fall protection anchorages: proof testing and pull testing (also known as strength testing). Proof testing involves calculations to model the strength of an anchor point. Should an anchorage fail during a proof test, there’s no reason to complete a pull test.
Testing an anchorage involves using a combination of proof and strength testing with pull testing done with great care to avoid permanent damage to the anchor.
Who Completes Roof Anchor Verification & Testing Requirements?
Let’s first clarify how OSHA defines a “qualified person” compared to a “competent person”.
OSHA defines a “qualified person” as “one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated his ability to solve or resolve problems related to the specific subject matter, the work, or the project.”
According to OSHA, a “competent person” is “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”
OSHA standard 1910.140(c)(13) specifies that anchorages need to be “designed, installed, and used under the supervision of a qualified person”. To ensure OSHA compliance, a qualified person should design and supervise the installation of a complete fall protection system. A competent person can examine an anchorage point to determine the safety for roof anchor verification and whether it can support 5,000 lbs.
Professionals can determine if the current roof anchor system layout meets the correct requirements. During a roof anchor verification and inspection, professionals check for cracks or deformations. If there is corrosion, deformities, or other impairments, then the roof anchor may have lost strength and may need to be replaced. In addition, professionals check for signs of deterioration and determine whether any fasteners need to be tightened.
EDGE provides an anchor point inspection service to ensure that all anchor point attachment, swaging, tensioning, and material are set up correctly. We can also perform load or pull tests on anchors.
Related: See this post where we discuss the difference between OSHA and Cal Osha requirements.
How Often Should A Roof Anchor Inspection Take Place?
Some roof anchors for fall protection need to support rope descent systems and window washing anchors. OSHA 1910.27(b)(1)(i) requires that before workers use a rope descent system, “the building owner must inform the employer in writing that the building owner has identified, tested, certified, and maintained each anchorage so it is capable of supporting 5,000 pounds in any direction, for each worker attached.”
OSHA 1910.27(b)(1)(i) also specifies that the building owner base the information provided to the employer on an annual inspection and a certification of each anchorage, as necessary, and at least every ten years. Why the “as necessary” language? This means that any accident that damages the anchor, major alterations to the building, or exposure to weather’s harmful elements may require more periodic recertification.
In general, roof anchor verification and testing requirements include that all single anchor points and lifeline systems are inspected by a competent person other than the user on a yearly basis. Without these documented inspections, single point anchors are out of compliance and out of warranty. And as a result, building owners who do not provide inspected equipment are liable for any fall protection anchor failure.
EDGE FP frequently performs onsite inspections of existing fall protection anchors. Our team can arrange for an annual inspection of your equipment to ensure all components of the system are functioning in the intended manner and are safe for usage. We can also perform load or pull tests on anchors. Annual inspections include all necessary documentation required by OSHA to ensure that the building owner is in compliance.
Knowing the Key Differences in Fall Protection Anchors
A fall restraint system restrains workers from falling by not allowing the worker to reach any unprotected edge. A fall arrest system is designed to stop a fall and to absorb the energy. Anchors are part of a fall arrest or fall restraint system. As you analyze fall arrest and fall restraint anchor point requirements, you may consider horizontal lifelines. (See this post to learn the difference between active vs passive fall protection.)
It can be challenging to install enough rooftop anchorage tie-off points to provide sufficient access to work areas. Horizontal lifeline systems involve two endpoint anchors connected by rope or cable to which workers attach a self-retracting or fixed-length lanyard. This allows a high degree of mobility. Fall protection designs may include horizontal lifelines around the perimeter or straight across the middle of a roof.
The ends of the horizontal lifeline could be placed far enough back from the roof’s edge so that a worker could not go over the edge in a way that produces swing. The placement could be such that the worker has fall restraint, preventing the worker from going over the roof’s edge.
Rather than having a single point tie-off anchor, horizontal lifelines allow access to a large area without needing to detach or reattach their lanyard. Longer lengths of cables may require intermediate anchor points. Horizontal lifelines provide a safe tie off point for workers not only during a construction phase, but also for future maintenance, inspection, and other contractors.
Roof Anchor Testing Requirements Conclusion
Whether on a construction job site or completing ongoing maintenance, rooftops have hazards. EDGE understands the need for quality safety and protection systems to mitigate rooftop hazards. In addition to EDGE fall protection products, we also offer turnkey installations. EDGE FP can also arrange an annual inspection of your equipment, including permanent anchors, to ensure components are functioning in the intended manner. Further, our edge protection professionals can perform load or pull tests on equipment and anchors to recertify their capacity.
To learn more about roof anchor testing requirements, fall protection anchors, or for assistance in your fall protection needs, check out our product selection or give us a call to discuss your questions.
Related OSHA Content on Specific Compliance Standards:
- OSHA Guardrail and Railing Requirements
- OSHA Platform Requirements
- OSHA Handrail Requirements
- OSHA Toeboard Requirements
- Rooftop Fall Protection Requirements
- OSHA vs. Cal-OSHA Standards