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An anchor is a very important part of any fall protection system. The anchor is usually a device that has been purposefully manufactured and installed, and is used to connect to and fully support a fall protection system. When a worker is using a fall protection system, they will connect their lanyard or lifeline to an anchor. Anchorage means a secure connection point for a fall protection system.
Anchors must be of the right type for the work and must be installed correctly. They are part of a fall protection system designed to stop a person from hitting the ground if there is a fall from a height.
In all cases, check the legislation in your jurisdiction for specific requirements.
More information about fall protection is available in the following OSH Answers documents:
There are different anchors available and they can vary by industry, job, building type, type of installation, and structure. Basic types of anchor systems for fall protection include:
In some cases, improvised anchors may be considered. These anchors are not manufactured to any specific standard, but rather may include using a beam or other structures. Preferably, a professional engineer or competent person should verify these anchors as having adequate capacity to serve as anchor points. When evaluating an improvised anchor, do not rely on tugging or pulling on the anchor as a test to see if it will hold. When a person falls, they exert a much larger force. Generally, choose an anchor capable of supporting the weight of a mid-sized car (about 16 kN or 3600 lbs or more).
The actual strength of an anchor is dependent on the anchor’s:
The load applied to the anchor depends on the fall protection system used, such as fall restraint versus fall arrest systems. For example, in British Columbia a temporary fall restraint system’s anchor must be designed to hold a load in every direction of at least 3.5 kN (800 lbs) or four times the weight of the worker to be connected to the system. For a temporary fall arrest system, the anchor must be designed to hold a load in every direction of at least 22 kN (5 000 lbs) or two times the maximum arrest force. A permanent anchor for a personal fall protection system must have a load capacity in any direction of at least 22 kN (5 000 lbs). (From BC OHS Regulation Part 11: Fall Protection, Section 11.6)
The strength required may also depend on whether an energy absorbing device is used.
For details that apply to your jurisdiction, please see Fall Protection – Legislation for Anchor Strength.
Visually inspect anchors for damage, corrosion, and suitability before connecting the fall protection equipment.
Permanent anchors should be inspected by a competent person at least once a year or according to the manufacturer's instructions. Keep records of the inspections, including the date of inspection, name, and signature of the person who did the inspection and any modifications or repairs made to the anchor point.
Always have anchors tested after a fall for its stability and strength by a professional engineer competent in fall protection systems or the manufacturer.