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One of our vendors, Frenchcreek, often asks at its fall protection training sessions: "what's the difference between a certified and a non-certified fall protection anchor point?" Even amongst experienced safety professionals, the question is often met with silence. The answer to the question may surprise you. The below information comes from Frenchcreek.
"Non-certified" does NOT mean that the anchor point doesn't meet OSHA standards for anchor points. It goes without saying that any anchor point should and must meet applicable OSHA standards.
So what is a non-certified anchor? A non-certified anchor is one that meets the OSHA requirement which states that an anchor point must be able to support at least 5,000 pounds "for every worker attached to the anchor point".
The layman's way to think about it is that if the anchor point could support a full-sized pickup truck, it can support you in the event of a fall. Such an anchor point would withstand the necessary fall arrest forces required by OSHA for a non-certified anchor point.
Such anchor points are identified by what OSHA calls a "qualified person." A qualified person is: "one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated his ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project."
Surprisingly, non-certified anchors are the most commonly used anchor in fall prevention and protection. In fact, non-certified anchors are the preferred anchors across the industry. That sounds a bit counter-intuitive.
Blaine Pettit of Frenchcreek puts it this way: "We know it sounds wrong, but ideally, when selecting a fall protection anchor you will want to choose a non-certified anchor if possible. While working on project sites, a majority of your anchor points will be non-certified anchors." A possible example of such an anchor point would be an overhead steel beam or some other structural feature.
So what is a certified anchor point? Think of it like this. The job site has no non-certified anchor points. In other words, it has nothing to use as an anchor point that can support a full-sized pickup truck that is already in place. Or to put another way, there is no anchor point available that meets OSHA's 5000 pound requirement. What do you do?
This is where a certified anchor point comes in to play. In such a scenario, you will need an anchor point specifically "designed and installed to an engineers specifications." Such an anchor point is a certified anchor point. The "certified" is a reference to the engineers stamp of approval.
Interestingly, such an anchor point only needs to exceed 2 times the maximum arresting force. "Because certified anchors are designed and installed as part of an engineered system, they do not need to meet the 5,000 lb. requirement for non-certified anchors." Some examples of certified anchor points are installed davit arm mounts and even a portable davit arm system such as the PD-CSKit1.
Certified Anchor Points, in contrast to non-certified can be identified by what OSHA calls a "competent person". A competent person is: "one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them."We hope this help in understanding fall protection anchor points. If you have any questions, be sure to reach out to us for help.