RTC Fall Protection provides a wide variety of safety products and protective gear for thousands of employers and end-users. As a result RTC receives questions from consumers about specific applications of fall protection systems, the importance and need for quality and safety control, and how to use specific components within a protection system. The following frequently asked questions address some of the common issues/questions that arise.
What Is The Strength Of The Fall Protection Anchorage Structure?
The strength and durability of a fall protection anchorage structure varies on the type of system used, how the system is installed, and the amount and weight of workers using the system. For instance, if using a fall arrest protection system, the weight a certified (evaluated by a qualified individual) anchor is 2 times the maximum arresting force. For a non-certified (selected by a competent, but not qualified individual) anchor the minimum strength requirement is 5000 lbs.
The anchorage strength for other fall protection systems includes:
Rescue system: Certified anchor – 5 times applied load, non-certified anchor – 3000 lbs.
Horizontal lifeline: Certified anchor – 2 times maximum line load, non-certified anchor – not applicable
Work positioning system: Certified anchor – 2 times foreseeable force, non-certified anchor – 3000 lbs.
Fall restraint system: Certified anchor – 2 times foreseeable force, non-certified anchor – 1000 lbs.
What Do I Do When The Location Does Not Allow For Overhead Anchorage?
While many work locations are able to install overhead anchorage for fall arrest systems, some anchor points may only be available at foot level. It is essential to provide the right amount of clearance area for fall arrest equipment that utilizes long free-falls. OSHA allows for limited exemptions for a 6 foot free-fall distance, but if your fall arrest system has a free-fall distance longer than 6 feet, you should check with a qualified person to ensure workers’ safety.
What Is The Difference Between Pre-engineered Flexible Horizontal Lifeline Systems And A Factory Horizontal Lifeline System?
Both factory manufactured flexible horizontal lifeline systems and pre-engineered systems must be installed according to RTC’s instructions. For factory kits, a in-line energy absorber will be provided. This absorber will be able to safely handle loads at a minimum of 2 times maximum line load.
A pre-engineered system is created for work-site specific applications. Typically the fall arrest system in this application is limited to 900 lbs. per worker (and equipment) that is attached to the lifeline.
In both systems to the correct end-anchor structures must be installed and evaluated by qualified personal. The specific weight requirement for a personal system is reviewed by RTC.
What Is The Recommended Position For Self-retracting Lifelines?
Yes, there are six different ways to use a harness. The attachment points are utilized with either fiber loops or metallic (D-) rings. These attachment points include:
Fall arrest – the d-ring located in the central back part of the harness is used for fall arrest systems. Note that the harness must be adjusted for the worker’s height and size for proper fit.Work positioning – workers should utilize the two front, central d-rings located on either hip. Never use only one d-ring for work positioning.
Travel restraint – the back central d-ring is a common point of restraint. An optional body belt may be utilized with a harness to provide additional restraint.
Descent – depending on the type of system used, various points of descent rings may be used. A single chest or waist d-ring could be used, or a pair of d-rings located around the waist is usable for evacuation. These loops or rings are also known as belay loops.
Evacuation – three different attachments may be used for a fall protection system in an evacuation. A pair of d-rings located at either shoulder is used to raise or lower an individual. A spreader bar may be used to assist in hoisting an individual along with frontal harness attachments located at the chest.
Ladder climbing safety systems – a single ring or pair of loops are often used at waist and chest level to secure an individual during ladder ascent situations.
Are There Different Types Of Harness Attachments? If So Where Are They Located On The Harness?
RTC recommends that self-retracting lifelines be mounted overhead where work takes place. The angle of the lifeline may not be over 30 degrees to avoid swing-fall hazards. It is important to note that all retractable lifelines must be protected from abrasive surfaces which could wear down the lifeline. RTC offers devices to protect lifelines from such wear, along with energy absorbers to reduce possible damage or injury.
How Do I Avoid Work Hazards With Twin-leg Lanyards?
Also known as Y-lanyards, twin-leg lanyards are a popular product for consumers seeking constant connection when moving from one anchor point to another. When using twin-leg lanyards, it is vital to be aware of the added hazards. Protect yourself by remembering the following:
Ensure secure connection with the snaphook at the stem of the Y-lanyard to the back central D-ring of the fall protection harness.
Do not extend the reach of the lanyard by connecting one leg to the harness and the other to the anchor structure. This may result in serious injuries or fatalities.
Only used the appropriate attachment points outlined by RTC for the unused leg of the lanyard. Failure to do so may result in a fall and injury.
Do not pass the lanyard under your arms, through your legs or around your neck during use.
What Is A Tie-back Lanyard?
A tie-back is a dense, highly-tensile webbed product that can be wrapped around a sturdy anchor. Tie-back lanyards have snaphooks attached to them and generally withstand 5000 lbs. of load weight. RTC recommends that you do not use a tie-back lanyard to secure a fall protection system unless specifically designed to do so.
What Is The Importance Of Component Compatibility Within A Fall Protection System?
All components within a fall protection system must work together seamlessly to ensure worker safety. Without a properly functioning system, injury may result. Therefore it is important that careful consideration is given by a qualified individual to ensure:
Compatible connections: All attachments (such as D-rings) must be uniform in shape and size. They must handle the same weight loads.
Connector size: The inside diameter of a ring should be larger than the securing component.
Ring shape: RTC uses circular rings to avoid catching of gate mechanisms to prevent falls and injury.
Strength of connecting elements: The strength of all components must match for proper and safe use. Most components are tested and rated at 5,000 lbs of tensile strength. However, some components may not require that amount depending on its use.
Note, that not all components offered by RTC are interchangeable between fall protection systems. Check with a qualified individual before using a mechanism from another system.
What Is The Expected Service Life Of A Fall Protection System Or Protection Products?
RTC does not place a limited length of time for the durability of its fall protection products. OSHA does not mandate a time frame for when products cease to be useful. Rather, the equipment itself, if properly maintained is constructed to last throughout the duration of expected use.
That said, regular service and maintenance of the equipment must be performed annually by a competent individual (as described by OSHA). All components within a system must be deemed as safe for continued use.
How Do I Use A Fall Protection System For Heavy Workers/tools?
For individuals weighing more than 310 lbs., specific designations on safety equipment must be recognized. For products that cannot withstand heavy loads, specially designed systems must be used for heavier weights. This includes all components such as lanyards, harnesses, and anchorage connectors.
Can Further Injury Result When Worker Loses Consciousness In A Fall Protection System?
It has been proven by medical experts that those who become injured and unconscious while suspended run a risk of further injury while in a full body harness. It is imperative that a rescue plan is developed and regularly reviewed by all workers. Medical professional’s state that a rescue must be made within six minutes after a worker loses consciousness while in a harness.
Additional injury of orthostatic intolerance may occur for workers who regularly use a full body harness. To prevent or delay the onset of symptoms that may occur, RTC suggests using light-weight, portable equipment.
Do You Provide Fall Protection Systems For Welders?
RTC does offer a line of fall protection equipment that allows welders to work at height with the full protection of a fall arrest system. Our specially formatted products are made with durable, heat and fire resistant material that keeps workers safe. For specific information about the protective welding systems we offer please see our products.