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The Guardian Fall Team Blog

A few weeks ago, we discussed how to ensure your new anchor point installation can withstand a 5,000 pound load on a given structure in our blog post entitled, ‘Determining Anchor Strengths – Part 1. New Installations’.

But how do you know that your existing anchor and structure can withstand a 5,000 pound load? This task requires a proper anchor point analysis to ensure both the safety of the installed system and the safety of the workers using the system.


Existing anchor points require both on-site inspection and engineering analysis as these anchor points typically lack the proper documentation. Ideally, these systems should always be accompanied by professional engineering documentation so that it can be reviewed and re-certified by the original design engineer as the system is built. The Z359.6 standard from ANSI (American National Standard Institute) requires the following regarding existing anchor points:

E4.6.5 If the original design was performed by an engineer, an engineer or a qualified person under the supervision of an engineer can perform the recertification. If the original design was not performed by an engineer, an engineer should be involved in the recertification, if this standard is used for that process.

The purpose of ‘E4.6.5’ is to stress the importance of an engineer being involved in the process at some point. Ideally, an engineer should be involved in both the initial design and the recertification processes, but sometimes this cannot be done. We at ESG strongly recommend that an engineer always be utilized to ensure that everything is reviewed properly.

4.6.5 Recertification of Active Fall Protection Systems. Active fall protection systems shall be thoroughly reviewed by an engineer at a frequency to be determined by the original design or other similar qualified engineer but not to exceed five years. This recertification process shall include a review of the original documents prepared for the system and their continued applicability. As a minimum, the following criteria shall also be considered and the result of the certification shall result in a report or set of documents outlined in Section 3.3.1:

- Changes in the hazards and tasks that are addressed by active fall protection system.
- Changes in regulations, standards or other factors affecting the active fall protection system.
- Feedback from a representative sample of the competent persons and authorized persons of the fall protection system.

Fall protection requirements, just like any other regulated industry, are constantly being updated to improve safety and incorporate improvements in the marketplace. As a result, recertification should be a thorough process where the entire system is evaluated in relation to current local and federal regulations. Additionally, typical worker use of a fall protection system and the associated hazards they are potentially exposed by using that system should be evaluated in case work procedures have at all changed or other hazards need to be addressed.

The IWCA (International Window Cleaners Association) also has their I-14.1-2001 standard which requires the following:

9.1.9 Anchorages shall be inspected annually by a qualified person. Anchorages shall be re-certified when re-roofing or renovating (pertinent to the window cleaning system) or at periods not to exceed 10 years. The report of this inspection shall be included in the building’s log book. If during the anchorage’s inspection an area of suspicion is identified, a test procedure, if necessary, shall be performed under the approval of a registered professional engineer.

And so, according to this standard, an inspection means that the anchorages have been inspected to ensure that the anchor’s strength and application have not been compromised due to an accident, corrosion, misuse, or modification. This is compared to a recertification which means that the system is physically tested to check that the anchors still have sufficient structural integrity to meet the applicable load requirements. This standard also states that:

9.1.10 Certification and re-certification of anchorages shall be under the supervision of a registered professional engineer.

The key part of this statement is to be aware of what it means to be ‘under the supervision.’ Under the supervision means that the actual testing activities can be performed by an individual other than the registered professional engineer (PE) as long as that individual has been trained to follow the PE’s procedures and inspection requirements. The PE will then review the objective on-site findings of the individual performing the onsite work (which usually includes images of the anchorages and structure along with detailed testing reports) in order to complete their evaluation and certify the systems appropriately.

By inspecting the job site, analyzing the existing anchor points from an engineering point of view, and abiding by the requirements set forth by ANSI and IWCA, you can properly determine the strength of your anchor.

For more information on determining anchor strengths for new installations, please feel free to contact me via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 1.800.466.6385.