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OSHA Fall Protection Regulations: Do All Systems Need A 5,000 Lb Rating?

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One of the most common fall protections misconceptions concerns the 5,000-pound anchorage requirement. Contrary to what you may have heard, not all fall protection anchors need to be rated at 5,000 pounds per OSHA, and here’s why….

pickup There are two types of fall protection anchorage—certified and non-certified anchors. Per OSHA 1926.502(d)(15), non-certified anchors “shall be…capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN) per employee attached.” OSHA 1926.502(d)(15)(i) requires certified anchors to “maintain a safety factor of at least two…”

To put the 5,000 pound load requirement for non-engineered systems in perspective–imagine an anchor point strong enough to suspend a full size pick-up…

 

If we circle back to the language cited above, OSHA holds fall protection systems designed by a qualified person to a different standard—two times the applied load.  With an engineered system, it is not uncommon to see applied loads ranging from 900 to 1,200 pounds (for a single user) during fall arrest.  Even with a safety factor of two, an engineered  system rated for applied loads ranging from 1,800 to 2,400 pounds is a very different than a 5,000-pound, non-certified anchor point.

When you hear phrases like “certified anchor points” or “engineered systems” you might be inclined to believe a non-certified anchor point is an easy, less expensive path to OSHA compliance but this is not always the case.  Sourcing a non-certified anchor point isn’t that difficult, but how can you ensure the connecting structure is rated at 5,000 pounds?  In this scenario, the only way to protect your company from a potential OSHA violation (or a serious injury in the event of a fall) is to hire an engineer to run the calculations.

For many, imagining an anchor capable of suspending a truck is an easier concept to grasp than two times the applied load, but meeting either requirement satisfies OSHA.  That said, self-performing and installing a non-certified anchor point isn’t as simple as it sounds.  And if you hire a professional engineer to assess your connecting structure, you probably won’t see the savings you hoped to achieve by installing a non-engineered anchor point.

To discuss the specifics of your application, or to learn more about OSHA fall protection requirements and how to remediate fall hazards, contact the safety experts at Diversified Fall Protection for further assistance.

 

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Did You Know?

It is the responsibility of the employer to provide and install the proper fall protection systems needed to protect and keep their workers safe?