OSHA regulations require companies to provide adequate protection for workers during routine building maintenance activities. Maintaining a comprehensive fall prevention and protection safety plan can benefit building management firms and owners in a number of other ways as well. Reduced medical bills and insurance costs, decreased downtime and improved productivity are among the most important advantages available to property owners and management firms that institute these safety programs.
Anchorages are vital components of modern fall protection systems. These installations are usually permanently integrated into the rooftop of the building and provide a secure and solid point of attachment for tieback supports for rigging and equipment and for fall protection lifelines for workers. Tieback anchorages must be installed and maintained in accordance with OSHA specifications and require regular inspections to ensure that they are functioning as intended to protect workers and support equipment. OSHA regulations require rooftop anchorages to be capable of supporting, at a minimum, 5,000 pounds of sustained weight for each employee secured by these attachment points. Anchorages intended for use with rigging systems and other equipment may require even higher weight ratings.
Safety tieback anchors are available in temporary and permanent configurations; however, for larger buildings and newer construction, permanent tieback anchors are more commonly used and can provide added convenience and protection for workers. These devices are used to secure outrigger maintenance devices, roof powered platform systems, boatswain’s chairs and suspended scaffolding to rooftops for use in window cleaning, ongoing building upkeep and other necessary maintenance tasks.Tieback anchors can be installed flush to the rooftop to provide a flat and level surface when not in use; however, most tieback anchorage systems are configured as standard U-bar models due to their lower costs and improved ease of use.
Types of Tieback Anchorage Systems
Depending on maintenance needs and the configuration of the rooftop, building owners and management firms can select from a variety of different tieback roof anchor types to provide optimal safety for their workers:
- Through-bolt systems are available in a range of heights and are an excellent choice for flat roofs that feature leading-edge hazards and for areas where equipment or multiple workers will depend on these anchorage points for support.
- Chemical adhesive anchorages use drilled bolts to secure the tieback anchor; these bolts are reinforced with a powerful and durable chemical seal for added protection.
- Welded tieback anchorages are constructed of stainless or galvanized steel and are welded directly to the existing structural steel of the rooftop; these installations must be positioned in the areas of the roof where structural steel elements can be accessed readily.
- Bolt-around-beam anchors use a sandwich of two steel plates on each side of a structural support beam and connect those two plates using durable bolts. The plates can be configured in a variety of sizes to accommodate different sizes of structural supports.
- Embedded tieback anchorages are, as their name suggests, embedded into the roof and secured using interlocking rebar and poured concrete to provide a stable and permanent solution for fall protection.
These roof anchor systems can provide the solid support workers need when performing regular building maintenance tasks.
Lifelines and Harnesses
No discussion of roof fall protection systems would be complete without a mention of fall arrest lifelines and harnesses. These vital personal protection devices are designed to stop a worker’s descent in six feet or less, ensuring that they can avoid serious injury in the event of a fall. Harnesses should be inspected regularly for any signs of damage or wear; lifelines must be secured properly to rooftop anchors and must also undergo regular inspections to ensure worker safety.
By implementing a comprehensive fall protection safety system, building managers and owners can provide a safer working environment for their employees and can reduce downtime and insurance claims to a considerable degree. This can enhance productivity and reduce costs for routine building maintenance tasks.