Fall Safety: Ensuring Compliance with Updated OSHA Rules

Falls from heights and on a working surface are among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. In recent years, OSHA has updated its rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems (OSHA 1910.27(b)(1)(i) to better protect workers from these hazards—clarifying standards and adding training and inspection requirements. This rule is closely tied to another OSHA regulation requiring that a leading edge 6 feet or more above a lower level be protected by guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems.

To ensure worker safety and protect people and objects attached to the building from falling, both rules demand that anchorages and tie-backs be capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds, in any direction, for each worker attached. In addition, building owners are required to identify, test, certify and maintain that each anchorage meets these requirements. Specific requirements include an annual visual inspection by a qualified professional and expert certification, as necessary, and at least every 10 years.

Tie-back anchor compromised by heavy load

Take the Right Steps to  Maintain Safety & Avoid Costly Fines
Remaining in compliance requires deep understanding of both OSHA regulations and complex structural support formulas. Marco Rodriguez, C.S.I., C.D.T, is a principal with K2N Crest who does a lot of work with building owners who want to ensure worker safety and avoid heavy fines for non-compliance.

Deformed tie-back anchor bending outward

“Swing stages, bosun’s chairs and window washing scaffolds are just some of the items needing support from building anchors and tie-backs,” says Rodriguez. “For example, one window washer will need to be connected to two different tie-backs—one to act as a lifeline and one to restrain their equipment. A swing stage will require 4-5 tie-backs—one per motor at each end as well as one per each person occupying the stage at any one time.”

Here are the primary actions every building owner should take for fall protection:

  • Understand the number and positioning of anchorages required for your building. A good structural engineering firm will perform an evaluation and provide you with a plan illustrating the specific location of each required roof- and wall-mount tie-back and identifying the tie-backs assigned to support each apparatus.
  • Ensure existing tie-backs are stable, free of corrosion and can support 5,000 pounds. Have an experienced structural engineer evaluate the condition of all current tie-backs and perform load tests to certify that they meet OSHA requirements.
  • Repair/replace unsound anchorages and install new anchorages as identified. This requires coordination between the construction company and a qualified structural engineer. The engineer runs the load calculations, designs the anchors and provides engineering documents to decommission unsound tie-backs and build and position new ones in the right locations. Structural engineers will also need to test the new and repaired anchors.
Certified wall-mount tie-back anchor

“Every building owner should have a comprehensive map and plan showing each tie-back location, how it is used, and when it was last inspected,” says Rodriguez. “There should also be a number assigned to every anchor. At K2N Crest, we provide this document to help facilitate the yearly inspection process and make it easier to identify, repair or replace tie-backs, as needed.”

Certified roof-mount tie-back anchor

From identification and testing to installation, certification and maintenance, K2N Crest offers the support you need to meet OSHA requirements. We also can assist with the bidding process to identify qualified contractors, monitor installation, then test and certify load capabilities.

K2N Crest specializes in creative problem solving in the practices of architectural design, structural engineering, architectural engineering, interior renovation, forensic engineering and roof consulting.  Building owners and managers throughout Illinois and Hawaii look to K2N for their architectural, structural and roof evaluation needs.  www.k2n.com