Vol. 5 – Spend Wisely on Anchorages to Truly Improve Safety & Manage Risk

To conclude this blog series, we want to provide a specific recommendation for how to not only comply with OSHA’s regulations, but also increase safety and manage risk for your organization. Simply put: You cannot comply with one line of the OSHA regulation and think your systems are safe.

Consider this: When you prepare to purchase a new home, you schedule a home inspection to minimize your risk—to avoid learning later that something critical needs to be addressed. You don’t just inspect one floor or one system; you select a highly knowledgeable and experienced person to make sure all aspects of the home are properly evaluated.

Yet many organizations focus solely on the strength of an anchorage while ignoring all the other aspects of a rope descent system. The building owner is still liable if the anchorage is in an improper location and a swing fall incident injures someone.

Rope descent systems fall within the walking-working surfaces regulations, and those regulations outline additional OSHA requirements that should be considered:

  • Recognition and avoidance of other hazards, such as access, weather, sharp edges, heat, chemicals, dropped objects, etc. – General Duty Clause 5a(1) of OSH Act
  • Use of equipment according to instructions – 1910.27(b)(2)(ii)
  • Fall clearance – 1910.27(b)(2)(v)
  • Training – 1910.27(b)(2)(iii)
  • Prompt rescue – 1910.27(b)(2)(viii)
  • Inspection – 1910.27(b)(1)(i)

We recommend a multi-step approach to addressing your rope descent anchorages:

Step 1: Gap analysis/risk assessment

With this step, you’re measuring against the items OSHA requires in the list above to understand if any aspects of the anchorage system need further analysis or changes.

Step 2: Detailed system analysis

Conduct a detailed system analysis that includes thorough structural evaluation, fall clearance analysis, and other aspects of full system certification as outlined in the ANSI Z359.6 standard.

It’s important to note that our recommended approach may require more time and expense than simply hiring a testing company to load test anchorages. Just as it would be risky to inspect only the roof of a house, it is ill-advised to address just one aspect of the system. Let’s do it right the first time to avoid potential damage to the systems, while truly improving safety and minimizing risk—rather than providing a false sense of security.

On December 5, LJB is hosting a free webinar on rope descent anchorages, where we’ll recap some of the information in this blog series, share real-life applications, and provide guidance on best practices that will ensure an anchorage performs as expected when called upon to save a life. I invite you to attend the webinar or ask questions on this topic below.


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