Vol. 1 – Do I Have Rope Descent Anchorages and What Does that Mean for Me?

When an organization takes ownership of a building, they also take on the responsibility for protecting workers who will inspect and maintain the facility. Many building owners hope to transfer that liability to the contractors they hire, but it cannot be fully avoided. In some cases, OSHA specifically places responsibility on the building owner.

Rope descent systems are commonly used for window cleaning. OSHA’s updated walking and working surface regulation, which became effective in January 2017, put renewed focus on the importance of these systems and the building owner’s responsibilities related to them.

Most questions on this topic stem directly from the language below from OSHA 29 CFR 1910.27(b)(1)(i):

“Before any rope descent system is used, the building owner must inform the employer, in writing, that the building owner has identified, tested, certified, and maintained each anchorage so it is capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds…”

In fact, many educated contractors will not perform services if appropriate anchorages are not provided. It’s important to note that OSHA specifically does not use the phrase “load tested.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop people from overlooking everything that OSHA requires about fall protection and rope descent systems and focusing solely on the strength of the anchorage.

If your organization owns or manages a building with rope descent anchorages, it is important to educate yourself on this issue to maintain OSHA compliance and provide proper protection for workers at heights.

In this blog series, we explore some misconceptions about rope descent anchorages and provide examples and details to encourage proper evaluation—that does not necessarily include load testing. Please subscribe or check back next Wednesday morning for the next installment in this blog series, which focuses on the impact the OSHA regulations have on new and existing systems. We’ll showcase some specific examples that highlight the importance of analysis before testing.

If you have your own specific questions about anchorages, please comment below.

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