Anchor Point and Lifeline Installation Into Suitable Structures

A common challenge we find when our clients need to setup Anchor Points or Lifelines is where to safely connect. There are different types of Anchor points, in this article we will be covering Permanent Anchors specifically.

Let us keep in mind the entire fall arrest system is subjected to vicious dynamic forces whilst arresting a fall. Because these forces do not discriminate, the force will be subjecting all components of the system (Anchor Point, Body Support & Connector) and if the weakest component cannot withstand this force, it will break, and the system will be pointless.

Anchor points do bring the largest uncertainty due to them not only needing to carry adequate certification, but also need to be securely installed and tested not to mention the surface/structure which they are connected to needing to be of adequate strength.

When it comes to the certification of the product, this is the easiest box to tick (Which we often see is the one overlooked). A permanent Anchor point MUST be certified to EN795 – this must be visually stamped on the anchor point and there should be some sort of certificate which accompanies the product. Permanent Lifelines must also carry the EN795 (Horizontal) and EN353 (Vertical) standard. As Work at Heights gear is Category 3 safety it must also carry a CE compliance.

Now, let us look at the different considerations of surfaces/structures we can install into apart from just the EN compliance.

Concrete Slab:

Advantage: Simple installation

Disadvantage: The density of concrete being installed into, and the dimensions of the slab (Thickness, Width, How close to the edge is the anchor installed, How close to a possible weak spot is the anchor installed), will be the largest factor when installing into Concrete and Structural Integrity can deteriorate from natural factors.

Means of Connection: Chemical or Mechanical Fasteners

Your Work at Heights service provider should have an idea as to whether the structure will be sufficient prior to installation taking place then also ensuring, once the installation is completed, that the structure will withstand the forces.

*You must be wary that the integrity of the structure could change due to external factors (Dropped Equipment, Natural Elements (UV, Rain) and this must be monitored. A minimum of recertification on an Annual period must be adhered to, but as soon as there is uncertainty of sufficient strength or an incident has occurred the Anchor must be re-inspected.

Structural Steel:

Advantage: Easier to identify structural capabilities – Less corrosion due daily activities as they are generally protected (Roof, Walls etc).

Disadvantage: Not as easy to drill into – Holes also affect structure integrity

Means of Connection: Fasteners/Clamping or Welding

A more secure structure to connect to which can be affected by corrosion and the environment. Structural steel is generally found within the structure and protected from the elements. This does not mean that it is certain – Your Work at Heights service provider must be expected to ensure the structure is still suitable for the use.

* A minimum of recertification on an Annual period must be adhered to, but as soon as there is uncertainty of sufficient strength or an incident has occurred the Anchor must be re-inspected.

Brick Wall:

Advantage: None

Disadvantage: The brick or entire wall could give way with the forces involved – It is suggested to not connect to such structures.

Means of Connection: Chemical + Sleave designed for Brick

Even though there is a solution which allows us to install anchors into Bricks we do not advise this as there is a major risk with not only the brick being drilled into but the entire wall as a whole potentially being pulled out with the forces created in a fall.

Roof Sheeting:

Advantage: Easier to install and less maintenance than making holes to get to Structure below, which could leak.

Disadvantage: Strength and Integrity due to constant weather exposure.

Means of Connection: Clamping system or Pop-rivets

Roof work is slightly more challenging. Creating anchor points on a roof to setup a lifeline leaves massive exposure when setting up Temporary lifeline. Connecting permanent systems directly onto the sheet is often a suitable suggestion but there is a major problem if this system is not adequately suitable. If you are connected to a section of Roof Sheet and the force from a fall is applied to it, the piece of sheeting could be completely ripped apart and then not be a safe solution. There must be shock absorbing elements on all posts connected to a roof section.

Roof sheeting has different profiles (see photo below) and they all require unique means of attachment of the anchor point base plate to them which is part of the considerations for EN795 certified systems.

* Roof sheeting weakens over time from continuous exposure. There must be a survey on the strength of the sheet ensuring it is able to withstand the forces from a fall – The Work at Heights specialist should ensure this is considered.

Protekta specialists are able to offer solutions which are more temporary should work on roofs be required – Be sure to get in touch if this is something which can keep your team safe. A minimum of recertification on an Annual period must be adhered to, but as soon as there is uncertainty of sufficient strength or an incident has occurred the Anchor must be re-inspected.

Wooden Roof Truss:

Advantage: Always available when building a roof and one of the structures first installed.

Disadvantage: There is no real standard in South Africa for this.

Means of Connection: Hammered in Device

Unfortunately, there is no product which is sold on the EN standard which leaves us limited on options. As this is not something looked at there is very little information in South Africa for this, but we know in USA and Australia this is often a utalised solution.

* Protekta would advise on approaching this sort of situation with creating adequate permanent anchors and setting up permanent lifelines where work must be done in this position.

This is covering the general areas being connected into but there may be other requirements on your site – feel free to engage with our team of specialists to find out what would be the safest, functional solution.

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