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Understanding Fall Protection Anchors

The concept of fall protection anchors is simple: connect yourself through a safety harness and lanyard to an immovable anchor point while working at height and you will be “caught” should any fall occur. However, understanding fall protection anchors is a lot more complicated. The wide variety of designs, specified uses, intended performance, weight load, attachments, and surrounding obstructions make the selection of fall protection anchors a precise and critical decision.

Understanding Fall Protection Anchors
Understanding Fall Protection Anchors

All anchors, even if they have the same load-bearing rating, are not created equal. Manufacturers design and engineer anchors with specifications on performance based on installation, use, environmental factors, and interaction with connecting components. To maintain compliance with OSHA and ANSI regulations, it may be best to work with a fall protection specialist who understands the anchors available on the market, their designed use and performance, and the many factors that affect the reliability and safety of the overall fall protection system at your individual worksite.

  • Where is the anchor needed?
  • How high can that anchor be to ensure there is a safe fall arrest distance?
  • What obstructions may present additional hazards that may swing falls?
  • What will the anchor be secured to?
  • What is the maximum fall force the anchor may be subjected to?
  • What will the minimum required strength need to be?

Once the unique specifications of the needed fall protection system are established, a fall protection specialist will identify the most applicable anchor to be used and will consider the following factors:

  • What type of anchor is needed (Type A – Basic, Type T – Tieback Use, or Type D – Deformable)? Is it certified to the maximum strength needed?
  • Is it destruction proof?
  • Does the anchor meet strength standards needed for the operation (including breakage strength, working load, weight capacity)?
  • Does the allowable direction of loading on anchor meet user operations?
  • What components does it need to be compatible with (safety harness, lanyard or lifeline, attachment point, etc.)?
  • Prioritize the performance of the anchor over cost. Though two different anchors pass the same compliance standards, their intended installation and use can be very different.

The responsibility then falls to the users of the fall protection system. Make sure to understand and not exceed the load capacity of the anchor which includes individual weight in addition to any weight that will be carried during operations while connected to the anchor. End-users must also understand and properly follow the manufacturer’s installation and use instructions. Manufacturers design anchors to manage the energy of a fall in different ways while providing an equal level of safety and then document the intended installation and use of the anchor.

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OSHA Awarded $11.2 in Safety Grants

OSHA awarded $11.2 million in safety grants through the Susan Harwood federal safety and health training program. The grants will provide education and training programs to help workers and employers recognize serious workplace hazards, including the coronavirus, implement injury prevention measures and understand their rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. 

OSHA Awarded $11.2 in Safety Grants
OSHA Awarded $11.2 in Safety Grants

The Susan Harwood Training Grants Program funds grants to nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor-management associations, colleges, and universities. Target trainees include small-business employers and underserved vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries. 

OSHA awarded 80 grants to conduct occupational safety and health training in urban and economically distressed areas. The 2020 Harwood grant awards also funded 12 targeted-topic training grants and four training and educational materials development grants on topics related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of the awards will at least partially fund fall prevention and protection training. Four awards were specifically targeted on the topic:

Brazilian Worker Center in Allston, MA – Awarded $135,000 to deliver 40 hours of fall prevention and protection training for 660 workers, supervisors, and employers in the residential construction and roofing industries. Training will including using ladders, scaffolds, and PPE.

National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) in Watertown, SD – Awarded $160,000 to provide six hours of fall prevention and protection training for 336 employers and workers in the construction industry. Training will emphasize fall prevention during small cell deployment and while building and maintaining wireless sites.

Organization of Hispanic Contractors in Dallas, TX – Awarded $160,000 to provide two hours of fall prevention and protection training for 900 employers and workers in the construction industry. The targeted audience includes small businesses with youth ad minority workers.

University of California at San Diego in LaJolla, CA – Awarded $159,737 to deliver four hours of fall prevention and protection training for 340 employers and workers in the construction, maritime, and general industries.

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Rail Car Fall Protection

It is Rail Safety Week in North America. While the focus of those efforts is to raise awareness about the dangers around railroad crossings, it is also a good time to review safety precautions for anyone working in or around rail cars and lines. If your operations include working on top of rail cars, which sit at heights of as high as 16 feet, you are required to provide rail car fall protection.

Rail Car Fall Protection
Rail Car Fall Protection

Fall Protection Systems led the industry to the overhead rigid rail fall protection standard for rail car fall protection operations, creating solutions for working over tanker, spine, and hopper cars. Whether indoor or outdoor, permanent or portable, overhead rigid rail fall protection systems provide the highest degree of mobility and safety in fall protection. The FPS Patented TD3 truss allows for greater spans in between support columns reducing both the costs and the footprint of the system at your facility.

The L-Series is a single-line fall protection system covered by the TD3 Truss Trolley rail attached to vertical support columns that are secured in concrete footings along your rail line. They can be customized to follow the curves in your rail line, modified to span into and out of awnings or other overhead structures, or pre-engineered into simple self-installed kits.

The T-Series covers dual rail lines or other neighboring operations like truck and rail. Two TD3 Truss Trolley rails are installed on a single vertical support column between your side-by-side operations to minimize footprint and cost.

The AR-Series includes the TD3 Truss Overhead Rigid Rail system installed with access staircase platforms. This combination protects workers as they climb to reach the needed working height and allows them to safely connect to the overhead fall protection system. Once connected, they can safely walk and work atop rail cars across the entire span of the fall protection system, secured from potential falls.

The P-Series provides the same industry-leading fall protection as our fixed systems. This pre-engineered version of our TD3 Truss trolley rail or a single-point attachment is secured to a skid-mounted support column that can easily be moved to work stations throughout your facility.

In addition to the risk of catastrophic falls that injure your employees, you may face safety violations. OSHA issues citations under Section 5(a)(1) General Duty clause for failure to protect employees from potential fall hazards associated with workers walking/working on top of rail cars without fall protection. The cost of providing fall protection to your employee is less than the costs of a fall. Take this Rail Safety Week as an opportunity to review your site for fall hazards in addition to ensuring railroad crossing safety.

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Everything Construction Fall Protection

Accounting for the highest number of injuries, fatalities, and related costs resulting from workplace falls, construction remains a highly targeted industry for safety groups. Construction sites are routinely cited for fall hazard violations, contributing to three of the top ten OSHA violations year after year. Construction falls are preventable. Fall Protection Systems is a trusted source for everything construction fall protection including hazard identification, solutions, and training.

Everything Construction Fall Protection
Everything Construction Fall Protection

OSHA requires that employers protect construction workers from fall hazards along unprotected sides or edges that are at least 6 feet above a lower level. Construction sites expose workers to a variety of hazards including working at heights, open edge exposure, and industrial equipment maneuvering.

  • Properly fitted PPE – Each worker using a fall arrest system should have their own, uniquely fitted harness. Harnesses come in a variety of sizes and configurations. They should only be used for their intended application and weight capacity. They should be inspected daily to ensure good working condition and custom-fitted to the individual user.
  • Secure Anchor Points – Anchor points provide the stability in active fall protection. When used with a full body harness and lifeline or lanyard, the complete system will arrest a worker in the event of a fall. Anchors come as deadweight or single-point devices which can be temporary or permanent.
  • Guardrails and safety gates – OSHA requires protection from trip and fall hazards, including open edges, floor or wall openings, rooftop perimeters, and walkway obstructions. Guardrails and safety gates are available as pre-engineered kits that can quickly and temporarily be placed onsite to remove the fall hazard.
  • Ladder fall protection – OSHA recently updated standards regarding acceptable fall protection equipment for ladders. Fixed ladders over 24 feet must have ladder safety or fall arrest systems. Ladder fall arrest systems are available as kits and can be quickly self-installed.

Fall Protection Systems offers only the most reliable equipment to get your construction job finished effectively and safely and all of our solutions are OSHA and ANSI compliant.  

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National Safety Stand-Down

The construction industry leads in fall-related injuries and fatalities by far in the U.S., with more than 20,000 injuries and 338 deaths in 2018. Construction workers are more than seven times more likely to die from a fall from height than other industries. Considered preventable, OSHA focuses many resources on mitigating construction site falls including the annual National Safety Stand-Down fall hazard awareness event being held this week.

National Safety Stand-Down
National Safety Stand-Down

A Safety Stand-Down is an opportunity for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. This week, safety information should focus on fall hazards and reinforcing the importance of fall prevention. Make sure to schedule the stand-down for each shift and consider including any subcontractors, engineers, architects, owners, and management. Your stand-down should be interactive and inclusive of employee experiences and suggestions. Structure your stand-down around the following topics:

  • What types of falls could happen? Common construction fall hazards result from operations including working on or near ladders, roofs, scaffold, stairs, or floor or roof openings.
  • What fall protection is provided? Employers are required to provide appropriate PPE, like personal fall arrest systems.
  • Is fall prevention and protection training up to date? If workers are unable to identify hazards, do not understand control measures, are unclear on using PPE and other fall protection equipment, or if there has been a recent fall, employers should initiate additional training.
  • What needs improvement? Are you experiencing fatalities, injuries, or near misses? Have your onsite workers identified areas or operations of concern?
  • What are the next steps? Make sure to end the stand-down with a commitment to follow up with additional resources and resolution of any concerns. Schedule follow up and include employees in research, selection, and implementation of equipment or process improvements.

OSHA requires that employers protect construction workers from fall hazards along unprotected sides or edges that are at least six feet above a lower level. Construction sites expose workers to a variety of hazards including working at heights, open edge exposure, and industrial equipment maneuvering. Fall Protection Systems can provide customized solutions for any of these fall hazard exposures. 

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Everything Fall Protection Commitment

Two weather events have widely impacted the country recently, stalling essential operations with extensive damage. A devastating Derecho wreaked havoc in Iowa and Illinois, toppling utility towers and grain facilities and damaging buildings. In the southwest corner of Louisiana, Hurricane Laura destroyed parts of the power grid, leveled buildings, and crippled distribution routes. As communities rebuild, returning industrial workers to safe operations will be critical. Our Everything Fall Protection commitment includes working with our facility partners to get staff back to safe operations as quickly as possible after unexpected incidents or weather events.

Everything Fall Protection Commitment
Everything Fall Protection Commitment

Damage to your fall protection system may not be as obvious as toppled columns. Before returning to operations, an inspection of your fall protection system is recommended. FPS offers nationwide inspections, regardless of manufacturer or installer, completed by our experienced and certified inspection technicians. The inspection includes a thorough evaluation of your fall protection systems, torque and bolt maintenance, and a certified inspection and evaluation report. Every component of your system will be inspected including trolley rail & attachments, foundations & footings, vertical support columns, safety harnesses, SRLS & lanyards, and caribiners and tag lines.

If your inspection reveals structural damage, our inspection technician will share the site documentation and photos with our engineering team who will get to work on a repair or replacement plan. .

Recently, a grain bin collapsed on to a Fall Protection System overhead rigid rail, toppling a vertical support column and twisting the truss. Our Fall Protection Specialists went onsite to inspect the entire system for structural integrity. Our certified technicians worked with the customer to swiftly repair and replace damaged equipment to ensure a complete and secure system.

Fall Protection Systems’ turnkey experience includes identifying, designing, manufacturing, and installing fall protection solutions. While our fall protection systems are built to last decades, our partnership doesn’t end with you after installation. We are proud to provide our customers with an industry-leading 5-year steel structure warranty, annual inspections, and serving as a trusted source for personal protective equipment. We look forward to continuing our over 20 years of providing fall protection solutions as your work site evolves or when the unexpected happens.

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High Fall Risk Industries

Costing $15.4 billion annually and claiming nearly 900 lives in 2018, falls remain a critical problem for U.S. businesses. Considered preventable, workplace safety enforcement and advocacy agencies continually focus on mitigating the risk of falls. Our most essential workers are operating in high fall risk industries including construction, manufacturing, transportation & warehousing, and agriculture.

High Fall Risk Industries
High Fall Risk Industries

The construction industry leads in fall-related injuries and fatalities by far, with more than 20,000 injuries and 338 American construction workers losing their lives in 2018. Construction workers are more than seven times more likely to die from a fall from height than other industries. Construction sites are routinely cited for fall hazard violations, contributing to three of the top ten OSHA violations year after year. Construction workers who are six feet or more above lower levels and those that use ladders are at risk for serious injury or death and must use fall protection safety equipment.  Solutions including guardrails, personal fall arrest systems, and ladder safety kits can reduce the risk of falls on construction sites.

Manufacturing facilities expose workers to a variety of fall hazards which accounted for 46 fatalities in 2018. Exposures to falls over open edges, working at heights or over equipment, maneuvering around obstructions, and working on ladders lead fall safety risks for manufacturing workers.
Manufacturing fall prevention and protection solutions include portable or fixed anchorage, safe access to reach at-height operations, guarding while maneuvering around industrial equipment, and safe ladder climbing.

Transportation and Warehousing operations accumulated 44 fatalities from a fall in 2018. Warehouse and transportation workers are exposed to a variety of fall hazards including falls over open edges, working at heights or over equipment, maneuvering around obstructions, and working on ladders. Falls during loading & unloading, tarping & tie-down, dock operations, and facility maintenance can be prevented with overhead anchor fall protection, guardrails and safety gates, ladder safety equipment, and personal fall arrest systems.

Agriculture workers lost 35 peers in 2018 from fall-related incidents.
Loading and unloading operations may expose workers to open hatches, swing & swivel spouts, and heights well over four feet and frequently atop rolling stock (rail cars, trucks, and barges). Silo and storage complexes require walking on uneven surfaces and maneuvering around industrial equipment that poses trip and fall hazards.  Grain bin entry exposes workers to falls leading to engulfment and additional workers at risk in the event of a confined space rescue. Maintenance of agriculture equipment like combines and tractors require operations at height. Agriculture fall prevention and protection solutions include overhead anchorage, safe access, and ladder climbing safety systems.

As we ask so many to continue to work each day to provide essential services, including food, shelter, and distribution, we must continue to do what we can to keep them safe on the job. As pressure mounts and pace increases, so do accidents. Worker safety cannot be overlooked. Fall Protection Systems continues our critical work of providing the safety equipment and service that has kept thousands of workers safe from falls while on the job for over 20 years. You can reach our fall protection specialists via email or phone (888-596-5367) during normal business hours.

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Safety Harness Plays Critical Role

When using a fall protection system as part of your safe operations protocol, a safety harness plays a critical role. Fall arrest harnesses are designed to minimize injuries during a fall and while waiting on rescue.

Safety Harness Plays Critical Role
Safety Harness Plays Critical Role

Role of the Safety Harness:
When properly worn, fitted, and attached to a fall protection system through a self-retracting lifeline, the force of a fall is distributed through the harness to areas of the body better able to absorb the force and support the worker’s weight. In addition to distributing force, the design of a full-body harness serves to keep the user upright in a fall, keeping the spine vertical, which is ideal for the body to best absorb compressive forces of a fall.

Proper Fit:
Typically weighing less than three pounds, the safety harness has a back-mounted D-Ring which is used to hook up to the lifeline. Harnesses include quick-release clamps and tensioning adjustments to fit various body shapes and sizes. Proper adjustment of the harness is essential to the user’s safety. Ill-fitting harnesses can be uncomfortable but most importantly may not provide the appropriate level of protection. Even if a too-loose fall protection harness catches a falling worker, the harness may not properly protect the worker from injuries during the fall as would be expected from a safely fitted harness.

Inspecting Your Harness:
Harnesses should be visibly inspected prior to each use. Ensure buckles work smoothly. If present, inspect the quick-connect buckles and ensuring the release tabs work freely and a click is heard when the buckle engages. Webbing material must be free from frayed, cut, or broken fibers. Check for tears, abrasions, mold, burns, or discoloration. Ensure there are no pulled or cut stitches. All labels should be present and fully visible. If any damage is detected during inspection, remove the harness from service immediately and replace.

Cleaning Your Harness:
Specific care must be followed when cleaning harnesses. Common disinfectants, like Lysol, should NOT be used. Most harnesses are made of porous synthetic materials and when exposed to the chemicals found in disinfectants may degrade and no longer meet their original design and strength requirements. Secondly, high-powered commercial washing or steamers should not be used due to the potential damage to the web fibers.

Hand scrubbing or top/side loading agitating-style washing machines are acceptable for cleaning harnesses and lanyards. If using a machine, the harness or lanyard should be placed in a mesh laundry bag to prevent tangling.

  • Remove all surface debris with a sponge dampened in plain water.
  • Use a mild detergent (bleach free and pH level less than 12) to work up a thick lather with vigorous back and forth motion.
  • Water temperature should not exceed 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Harness should be rinsed in clean water.
  • Hang to dry in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight.
  • Storage areas should be clean, dry, and free of exposure to fumes or corrosive elements.

OSHA 1910.140 defines Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Personal Fall Protection Systems including the proper types, components, and performance standards of fall protection harnesses and employer expectations for providing compliant PPE. Fall Protection Systems is a trusted provider for OSHA compliant fall arrest harnesses.

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Harvest Fall Protection Safety

This week is Harvest Safety Week supported by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA). During this second annual event, NGFA will highlight safety resources for harvesting including daily emails with safety tip sheets, interactive courses, videos, and podcasts. Fall Protection Systems started our business over 25 years ago serving the grain industry and are the leaders in harvest fall protection safety.

Harvest Fall Protection Safety
Harvest Fall Protection Safety

Grain Bin Entry
Grain storage bin entry leads to more fatalities than any other incident in the industry. Though suffocation from engulfment, hazardous atmosphere, or lack of oxygen is the official cause of death, the accidents stem from slips or falls without adequate fall arrest protection or confined space rescue.  To mitigate these falls, equip grain bin entry workers with a fall arrest system that includes a harness connected to a lifeline that is positioned and of sufficient length to prevent a worker from sinking into the grain. You also need appropriate rescue equipment on hand and ensure everyone is trained on its proper use. We recommend a davit arm that has multiple base options that can be clamped to metal frames, bolted to metal or concrete, used with a floor stand, or even attached to a trailer hitch. There must be at least one additional observer who is trained and equipped to provide assistance or rescue outside of the bin and that all can maintain clear visual, voice, or signal communication.

Grain Bin Climbing
With so many aging grain bins throughout the country, many do not have ladder and access systems that meet updated requirements by OSHA to reduce fall hazards. OSHA requires employers to provide ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems for fixed ladders that extend more than 24 feet. Additionally, all existing cages and wells must be replaced with ladder safety or personal fall arrest systems.  Ladder safety system solutions include cable or vertical rail systems that are available as easy to install kits or can be customized and installed.

Grain Transportation
Loading and unloading operations exposes workers to open hatches, swing & swivel spouts, and falling from heights well over four feet especially when working atop rail cars, trucks, and barges. Whether indoor or outdoor, permanent or portable, overhead rigid rail fall protection systems provide the highest degree of mobility and safety in fall protection. The FPS patented TD3 Truss allows for greater spans in between support columns, reducing both the costs and the footprint of the system at your facility.
Overhead fall protection systems provide continuous lateral fall protection coverage along the full length of the system, securing workers as they traverse along rail cars, trucks, or barges.

FPS is your partner for everything fall protection, providing turnkey fall protection systems that keep grain and feed operation workers safe.  Our solutions secure indoor and outdoor hazards including open hatches and edges, confined space, maneuvering around loading spouts and other equipment, ladder climbing, and slipping or falling while working atop rail cars, trucks, and barges.  Our fall protection specialist will work with you to identify and secure all fall hazards at your facility. Contact us for a site evaluation.

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Get to Know Fall Protection Inspections

Protecting your employees and your fall protection system investment requires daily and annual inspections. From the individual and personal components to the anchor and structure, get to know fall protection inspections.

Get to Know Fall Protection Inspections
Get to Know Fall Protection Inspections

Components of an overhead fall protection system typically include a single-point attachment or a trolley anchor as part of a larger structure with foundations. Annual inspections should be completed by a competent person or a competent rescuer, who is not the user, to verify the equipment is safe for continued use. Fall Protection Systems offers nationwide inspections, regardless of manufacturer or installer, completed by experienced and certified inspection technicians. The inspection includes a thorough evaluation of structure and footings, torque and bolt maintenance, and a certified inspection and evaluation report.

The carabiner typically provides the attachment from the self-retracting lifeline (SRL) to the anchor point. There are two spring-loaded safety locks that prevent the carabiner from opening or accidentally releasing. After opening, the carabiner should automatically close and lock in place. If that feature ever fails, the carabiner should be removed from service and replaced.

The SRL is a critical component of any fall protection system. Similar to a seat belt, the SRL is spring-loaded to eliminate slack in the lifeline. When a fall occurs, the sudden tug on the lifeline causes the internal braking system to lock. An SRL system needs to be inspected for exposure of the “shock” indicator before each use. A a red indicator will be visible and the swivel will no longer turn when an SRL is shocked from a fall arrest or sudden impact. You may NOT use an SRL if this warning indicator is visible. The SRL will need to be taken out of use and re-certified.

The lifeline clamp that connects the SRL to your harness should also be visibly inspected each time you hook up to the system. These have a double-locking feature that requires two separate movements to open and should automatically close and lock in place when released. If that feature ever fails, remove from service and replace.

Fall arrest harnesses are designed to distribute the energy generated by a fall into the safest parts of the victim’s body where it may be absorbed without serious injury. Harnesses should be visibly inspected prior to each use. Ensure buckles work smoothly. If present, inspect the quick-connect buckles and ensuring the release tabs work freely and a click is heard when the buckle engages. Webbing material must be free from frayed, cut, or broken fibers. Check for tears, abrasions, mold, burns, or discoloration. Ensure there are no pulled or cut stitches. All labels should be present and fully visible. If any damage is detected during inspection, remove the harness from service immediately and replace.

Both ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) require inspection of fall protection equipment and components. Inspections should occur daily for personal fall PPE and both after a fall and annually for personal fall PPE and fall protection system equipment.

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