Anchor Devices for Fall Protection
For those who work at height, whether in the construction industry or any other industry, a fall protection system can be one of the most important safety tools available. There are several different types of fall protection equipment and different tasks will require a specific type of system or safety harness:
- Class 1 Body belts (equipped with single or double D-rings) are recommended when a worker needs to be restrained in a hazardous work position to reduce the possibility of a fall. These should be used for positioning only and not when there is potential for a fall.
- Class 2 Chest harnesses should only be used when there are limited fall hazards (not a vertical free fall hazard) or in order to retrieve or remove a person from a bin or a tank.
- Class 3 Full body harnesses are designed to arrest the most severe free falls.
- Class 4 Suspension belts are independent work supports that can be utilized to suspend a worker – such as raising or lowering harnesses or boatswain’s chairs.
All of the above are items of personal protective equipment (PPE) and should only be used with the appropriate anchor devices. In Europe the applicable standard for anchor devices is EN 795 – this is the European standard that relates to the testing of personal fall protection equipment and deals specifically with single user anchor devices. The requirements and test methods for anchor devices that allow more than one user to be attached at any one time are provided in a separate technical specification.
These anchor devices are tested using construction fixings (clamps) and construction materials (e.g. a roofing system) as recommended by the manufacturer. All anchor devices intended for fall restraint must be tested for fall arrest in order to prevent misuse. U-Bolt clamps should not be used to form cable terminations. The strength requirements for anchor devices are as follows:
- Metallic anchor devices must be able to sustain a load of 12 kN (Kilonewton).
- Non metallic anchor devices must be able to sustain a load of 18 kN (unless other evidence of durability is provided).
When choosing anchor devices, the following issues will need to be taken into consideration.
- Products which have the CE mark undergo ongoing testing and auditing in order to ensure that the items produced still demonstrate the same quality and meet the same performance requirements as when the original type-testing was undertaken.
- The manufacturer should provide and EC type examination certificate (and 11A/11B certificate if applicable), test reports and quality compliance certificates to demonstrate that the anchor devices are still being manufactured to the original specification. If anchor devices are not CE marked, it is recommended that the buyer or installer checks that the manufacturer maintains a similar quality system.
- Regular inspection and examination of the anchor devices should be undertaken to ensure that they continue to function correctly and have not deteriorated.
- Whether or not the anchor device has been tested in the type of substrate on which is will be used/installed. An anchor device’s performance may be significantly altered when installed in or on different materials and may not be safe for use without further testing.