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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

The worlds of construction and engineering are full of numbers. Heights, diameters, percentages, and more help us design products, construct buildings, and comply with safety regulations. But sometimes this dirge of numbers can get confusing, and it is no different in the world of fall protection.

Here’s a quick test:

The Game Of Weights & Measures

Take a look at these numbers, all of which relate to fall protection. How many can you identify? (and do note that all of these can be used only when having a simple conversation about full-body harnesses.) No problem, right? Well, let’s see how you did!

130 lbs.

The minimum required worker weight to use fall protection. Note that there is a small selection of shock absorbing devices that can allow a worker under 130 lbs. to use fall protection, but 130 lbs. is the number to remember.

310 lbs.

The maximum permitted worker weight to use fall protection, unless using a shock absorber designed for heavier workers. The most common permitted worker weight range is 130-310 lbs.

420 lbs.

The maximum permitted worker weight to use fall protection when using a heavy duty shock absorber (like the Big Boss Lanyard).

1,000 lbs., 3,000 lbs., & 5,000 lbs.

Minimum required anchorage connector breaking strength for non-certified anchors (per ANSI) based on fall protection application (Restraint, Work Positioning, and Fall Arrest, respectively). If you need to brush up on how fall protection applications apply to each harness D-Ring, take a look at our other blog post titled, Harness D-Rings & Fall Protection Applications.

900 lbs.

The maximum average arrest force permitted for many shock absorbing connecting devices tested under normal conditions.

1,800 lbs.

The maximum permitted arresting force for fall protection systems (per OSHA and ANSI).

3,600 lbs.

The minimum required anchor breaking strength for certified/engineered anchors. This number is representative of the anchor achieving the required 2:1 strength ratio required by OSHA and ANSI.

So here we’ve seen 3 categories of numbers: worker capacity, anchor strength, and fall arrest forces, all of which operate independently from one another, and all of which are important to understand to work as safely as possible.

When you see an anchor labeled with “5,000 lbs.”, for example, we know this is neither addressing the weight of the worker nor any kind of rating for use for rigging or hoisting equipment (in fact, fall protection anchors must never be used for rigging/hoisting unless specifically designed for such use by the manufacturer). When pulled on a static hydraulic test bed the anchor will not break until at least the 5,000 lb. mark is hit, a number that has been selected by regulatory bodies to help ensure a sufficient safety margin is achieved.

And when you see a 420 lb. worker capacity, we know this is not related to the forces achieved during the arrest of a fall (which will always be greater than just the worker’s weight), and instead is only referencing the weight of the worker. 1,800 lbs. is the number to look for in respect to fall arrest forces, as no legal fall protection system will allow forces in excess of this maximum.

The weights and measures of fall protection really aren’t that tough when you know what to look for, but if you’re ever unsure…always reference your product instructions, or contact your friendly fall protection manufacturer to lend a hand.

And don’t forget those metric conversions!

The Game Of Weights & Measures - The Real Answer