Thursday, September 20, 2007

Who's Responsible if an Anchor is Loose?

A building manager asked recently who's responsible if one of the anchors on the building roof is loose. The answer is "it depends on why the anchor is loose". The original installer should warrantee the work for at least a year from the date of substantial completion. The manufacturer should warrantee the product for at least a year. If the installer and / or manufacturer cannot or will not correct the problem, then you might contact another anchor installation company for help. If the anchors are out of warrantee, then it is the building owner's and building manager's responsibility... (click title for more)

First and foremost is to mark any loose anchors and DO NOT LET ANYONE USE THEM because if the anchor breaks free from the building, and it is being used for a safety line at that time the user will fall to their death or be seriously injured.

Next, determine how the anchor is attached (clamp-on, bolt-on, weld-on, epoxy-on) and determine if it can be accessed from the underside of the roof without damaging the waterproofing topside.

Generally, the weld-on and epoxy-on anchors cannot be repaired from below. Clamp-on and bolt-on anchors usually have hardware (nuts, bolts) that can be retightened. Sometimes the metal stretches slightly over time or expands due to temperature changes.

The annual anchor system inspection will usually pick up on any loose, damaged, bent, decayed or coroded anchors.

If you have any re-roofing or other work done on the roof that affects an anchor in any way (or the entire anchorage system), then the 10-year certification must be redone on those anchors that are affected.

You should have on file a State licensed engineer stamped drawing showing the anchors and structural detail and a logbook showing the initial install pull-test results for each anchor. With each annual inspection the results are entered into the log book.

If you have buildings where anchors were installed years ago, and there is no logbook and drawing as proof of certification, they should be evaluated as to proper layout, proper construction, each anchor’s load bearing capability, correct attachment to building and the building’s load bearing ability at each anchorage attachment.

Other conditions such as low parapet wall height (or too high), unprotected walking surfaces and leading roof edges and other fall hazards not originally addressed by the legacy anchor system should be resolved.

Even heights of 6’ can cause severe injury or death. Often this is fixed by using an adjustable retractable lanyard in combination with properly located anchors, or, a horizontal lifeline system that traverses the perimeter of the fall hazard area.