Introduction

"How do I know if this anchor is rated to 5000 pounds?"

This question is as old as fall protection itself. Inevitably, this question arises at every toolbox talk and training session when talking about fall protection. It always leads to a series of follow up questions that are just as predictable as the original 5000-pound question. Who is allowed to determine the anchor is 5000 pounds? How do I prove it? Who is or isn't a qualified person? Does it have to be a professional engineer? The anchor is part of the building and isn't going to fail, is this legal to attach too? The list of questions goes on and on. The discussion usually ends with the worker and employer not having a feasible solution to address anchorages, other than the advice to "hook to something that will hold your truck".

In a perfect world every single location where a worker may anchor a fall protection system would have an engineered anchorage. Each would be identified by a nationally recognized color and have a standard information label attached. Each would be supported with a proof load certificate, engineer's stamp, users guide and list of acceptable equipment that can be attached. In a perfect world, these requirements would be written into occupational safety regulations. But, it isn't a perfect world and certifying every anchorage to this degree can be argued as infeasible. Everyone agrees that this is an admirable goal and direction, but the speed of approval, cost, value and availability of people to do such certification often sidetracks this option.

In an imperfect world, there would be no consideration for the anchorage. There would be no mention of strength and the industry would accept accidents due to anchorage failure. This method is certainly feasible, but the moral, emotional and financial toll of fall related accidents is unacceptable. More can be done than this. Like many safety issues, the feasible, functional methodology to address anchorage selection involves a balanced approach.

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