Fall Protection Anchorages

Fall protection anchorages are a hotly debated topic, and one that I am personally passionate about.  A poll question from a recent webinar on fall protection system certification has sparked some healthy debate on anchorages once again.

The question:   True or false – By law, all anchorages must be designed by a qualified person.

The answer I gave during the webinar was false—that anchorages do not have to be designed by a qualified person.  That answer was not technically correct, and I appreciate our attendees for listening so closely and pointing out how the nuance of wording is incredibly importance in this instance.

According to OSHA, anchorages must be designed under the supervision of a qualified person OR support 5,000 pounds.  My point with the poll question was that OSHA requires that a qualified person design anchorages, but also technically says that anyone can designate what anchorages can support 5,000 pounds.

There is truly an important distinction between design and designate. Essentially, anyone can designate what serves as a fall protection anchorage, despite the specific and critical engineering and safety variables that must be accounted for.  Even though the law technically allows others (non-qualified persons) to designate an anchorage, please be extremely cautious using this practice.  Appropriate anchorages are critical to proper function of fall protection solutions—this function definitely shouldn’t be left in untrained hands.


  1. It might be a risky issue. It is not easy for non-structural-trained people to know if some anchorage point can withstand 5000lb. What we have done in some facilities is to limitate the universe of elements the users can select in case they don’t have a structural engineer as quick as they need it (some emergency for instance). It includes considerations related to the size of the elements, connections, current load conditions, etc. This is for Health and Safety supervisors, not for contractors, althought some time their retrofit is very useful and it is taken into account, but I don’t think is recommendable to give that responsability to the contractors. It could become an uncontrolled mess.

  2. Marjory Anderson says:

    Thank you for noting our discussion. The way the question was worded the answer should have been true as OSHA does require a Qualified person to design an anchorage. If the intended answer was false the question should have been worded as: ‘By Law, OSHA requires that all anchor points be identified or designated by a qualified person.’

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