Sunday, March 8, 2009

Engineered Fall Prevention System

In this photo clearly visible, certified anchors are being used for three purposes, as follows:

1) The first purpose is to
 anchor the counter-weighted outriggers solidly in place. These in turn are being used to suspend the ground-rigged powered platform.

2) The second purpose is to anchor the safety lines, one for each worker, to prevent their falling to their death in the event the platform or its suspensions lines fail.

3) The third purpose, not so apparent here, is to provision tie-offs for workers that will come within six feet (6') of the roof edge, sky light or other unprotected roof opening, in the event their is no parapet wall or guardrail (as depicted here) of at least 42" in height.

This redundancy, having independent, certified anchorages, and USING THEM, is what saves lives. Like wearing a seatbelt in your car, using safety equipment does work.

These anchors can be used interchangeably as primary (suspension) or secondary (safety) tie-offs. They can be used for powered platforms and rope descent systems (like bosun chair), as long as they are engineered to withstand the maximum dynamic loading (5,000 lbs. USA OSHA, 5,400 lbs. California OSHA).

Note some of the equipment is permanent, namely the anchors. They are attached to the structure of the building in such a way that neither the building nor the attachments nor the anchors will fail. These are certified for 10 years and need to be inspected every year per OSHA.

The non-permanent equipment (ropes, cables, carabineers, outriggers, counter weights, lanyards, body harnesses) are usually brought in by the sub-contractor (window cleaner, painter, water proofer, caulking, etc.). All this equipment must be well-maintained and meet stringent strength requirements - 5,000 lbs.

Often this mobile equipment can be corroded by acid rain, sun scorched, ultra-violate ray damaged, dented, bent, rusty via oxidation, cut, weakened, made of the wrong materials, or simply too old, and should be inspected by the users and supervisors and replaced if necessary.

Sometimes workers are tasked to tie-off their lines to whatever is on the roof of a building if it is not so equiped with certified anchorages -- this is very dangerous because "whatever" is probably not strong enough (or at least hasn't been proven to be) and tieing knots in ropes causes the ropes to be 70% weaker, plus, who knows for sure if the knot is sufficient?

There exists a vertical chain of responsibility that (a) the workers are trained, (b) they follow their Site-Specific WRITTEN Safety Plan, (c) their equipment is maintained properly, (d) there are certified, visible (easy to access and use) anchorages provided on the building.

This takes honesty and true adherence to safety if any and all sub-contractors are to bid their work on a level playing field and also, if all buildings are to provision safe working conditions per the OSHA General Duty Clause.

If nothing else, it's just the RIGHT THING TO DO.