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What to Know About Engineered Fall Protection Inspections and Recertifications

Conducting OSHA/ANSI inspections and receritifations for engineered fall protection systems to ensure safety and compliance.

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Published on: February 27, 2024

You undertake several tasks regularly to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of yourself and your home. Show up for your annual physical. Change the batteries in your smoke alarms. Clean out leaves from your rain gutters. And when you scale a ladder to get to the gutters, you have a nice peek of your roof. Most homeowners do not climb farther up to wander around on their roofs. That is dangerous and best left to professionals.

It is a different perspective on the job at commercial, institutional, and industrial facilities. Workers regularly access these roofs to perform maintenance and repair building systems, such as heating, ventilation, air-conditioning equipment, solar panels, and communications structures.

Are the fall protection systems and equipment the rooftop workers rely upon still adequate? Was the equipment installed correctly in the first place? Has time, weather, and regular use taken their toll? Are there newer, superior upgrades to improve worker safety and protect your company’s investments?

Once Upon Compliance

Even if a company was OSHA compliant when the equipment was installed—which could have been decades ago—regular inspections help ensure that work-at-height solutions are still compliant and effective.

According to ANSI Z359.2-2017 9.4.2, fall protection systems must be inspected annually by a professionally trained and authorized “Competent Person” other than the user(s). OSHA defines a Competent Person as “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.”

Although training courses are available, an individual becomes a Competent Person through experience, skill, and authority.

What will a Competent Person look for?

A Competent Person conducting an inspection will identify all hazards on the rooftop (e.g., access points, roof edges, obstructions, obstacles, slippery surfaces) and determine whether workers are protected from these hazards by properly installed and maintained OSHA-compliant systems and equipment.

A detailed examination can address the need for repairs or replacement due to corrosion and other wear, missing or damaged fasteners, or even if a “high visibility” yellow guardrail is faded and needs a new coat of paint.

Other issues to address can include:

  • Are there changes or updates to OSHA (or local) regulations that necessitate installing new or replacing existing equipment?
  • Are there vertical or horizontal lifelines in use that need to be taken out of service, and are the workers professionally trained?
  • Have there been changes to the roof since the last inspection? For example, skylights are often retrofitted onto older rooftops, but OSHA classifies skylights as a hole in the roof. The inspector will recommend worker safety measures such as skylight screens.

Typical systems and equipment to inspect:

Certifications to Cover 5 Years

An added measure of assurance and safety is to have a Qualified Professional Engineer conduct a 5-Year Engineering & Design Review (EDR) Certification.

The certification includes the aspects of an annual inspection. It goes further with a consultation with Competent Persons and users of the fall protection systems and equipment, a review of the original design, and stamped drawings and specifications.

The goal is to satisfy the OSHA General Duty Clause, minimum requirements for a comprehensive fall protection plan, ANSI Z359.6 for active fall protection systems, and manufacturers’ specifications.

Which solution is best for you?

If you are responsible for fall protection at your facility, contact Flexible Lifeline Systems to ensure you are up-to-date and your workers protected by a routine inspection or 5-Year EDR certification. We can discuss your needs and concerns about regulatory compliance, visit your site to conduct a safety audit and map out a plan of action. Our services can include as little or as much as you need, from design, engineering, and fabrication to installation, training, and other support.

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