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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

For more than a year now, we have highlighted examples of how we see fall protection equipment being used in the real world. Instructions and other technical information are always great ways to learn about proper use and installation, but oftentimes the best way to understand the proper use of a product is to see it in action.

When a product is used correctly there often isn’t a whole lot to say about it (other than appreciating a job well done, of course!), but when product is used incorrectly it can give us an interesting inlet to some of the foundational concepts of fall protection. And this is exactly the case with our product image for this quarter.

What's Wrong With This Picture? (Q2 2016)

Here, we see a Guardian Temper Anchor (part # 00455) installed to a horizontal structural wooden beam. A self-retracting lifeline (SRL) is connected to the Temper Anchor via a carabiner, and then is connected to a worker’s full-body harness (which is out of frame).

At first glance everything looks good here, but trust us—it isn’t!

So, ask yourself...

What's Wrong With This Picture?

First, let’s address and discard a potentially distracting part of this image. While it is always important to avoid contact with electrical hazards, the various wires and cabling we see are secured away from the fall protection equipment and do not appear to pose any hazard. The jobsite Competent Person must always consider all existing and potential hazards in the development of their fall protection plan, but assuming that this has been done we can move on.

Next, our SRL is attached to the Temper Anchor with a carabiner, which is of course perfectly acceptable, so we’ll keep going. This means all we’re left with is the anchor itself.

When inspecting anchors, it is always important to conduct a complete assessment of the installation. When referencing Guardian’s Temper Anchor instruction manual, we find that installation onto a wooden structural beam requires “(12) #12 2” screws (6 per side) in center column of fastener installation holes, OR (12) 16d 3½” nails (6 per side) in center column of fastener installation holes.” We can see in our image that 12 screws are correctly installed along the center column of fastener installation holes, so again we’re in good shape.

So what’s left?

One other important variable to always consider in the installation of anchorage connectors is the permitted positioning of the anchor. Some anchors can be installed on any surface slope, while others cannot, and some anchors can be loaded in any direction, while others cannot, and it is the permitted anchor loading angles where we finally find our problem.

Also included in the Temper Anchor instruction manual is this handy image:

Side-Loading Of The Temper Anchor Is Not Permitted

This image makes reference to Guardian’s anchorage positioning requirements (addressed in more detail in the product instructions), and shows that “side-loading” of the anchor is not permitted. And when we look back at our image for this quarter, we see that the Temper Anchor is installed in a manner that would result in a side-load in the event of a fall.

Why is side-loading bad?

Ultimately, any/all restrictions assigned to an anchor by the manufacturer come back to how the anchor is designed and tested. In the case of the Temper Anchor, testing shows that the fasteners used to install the anchor perform better when the anchor is loaded in parallel with the plate as opposed to perpendicular to it.

Our engineers could have a field day explaining things like fastener tensile strength and pull-out values (feel free and ask them!), but for our purposes here it’s enough to say that the side-loading of an anchor can potentially result in fasteners being exposed to forces they are not designed to withstand within the context of the complete fall protection system.

So what’s our solution?

Very simply, to rotate the Temper Anchor 90º so that loading will occur in-line with the anchor plate. In the event there is not enough space to install the anchor correctly, a different anchor will need to be used. Guardian’s Ridge-It Anchor (part # 00500) or D-Bolt Forged Anchorage Connector (part # 00370) are just two options that would work for our desired installation location.

When selecting your installation location, always make sure that all conditions set forth by product instructions (such as substrate thickness or proximity to any edge/corner) are met prior to installing. Anchors can often be taken for granted in favor of more complicated issues like leading edge applications or fall clearance calculations, but a properly installed and used anchor point is no less essential than any other part of the fall protection system.