It seems like it would be an easy answer to an easy question. While instructing a recent fall protection training, Blaine Pettit FrenchCreek’s director of protection training, asked the question to a classroom of attendees. Despite most attendees having years of fall protection experience, they almost all answered the question as expected.
“Well, of course, I’d want a certified anchor.”
“I ask this question at nearly every general fall protection training,” says Pettit. “It seems like such a simple answer, but most workers that use fall protection on a daily basis do not know the difference.”
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.
Non-Certifed Anchors– OSHA states that all non-certified anchors must be able to support at least 5,000 lbs. for every employee attached to the anchor point. If the anchor point could hold the weight of a full-sized pickup truck it’s most likely safe for you. This is OSHA and ANSI’s way of getting end-users to think beyond the bare minimum for a fall arrest anchor. Ideally, you should be looking at anchorage locations that can support 5,000 lbs. This way you are always going to exceed the safety requirements for maximum fall arrest forces.
Certifed Anchors– The ideal 5,000 lb. anchorage location doesn’t always exist. Because of this, OSHA applies strict guidelines that must be followed when using a certified anchor. A certified anchorage point has been designed and installed to an engineer’s specifications. For fall arrest a certified anchor must exceed 2 times the max. 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 anchors.
In addition, certified anchors can be portable. Let’s say you’re a municipal worker that must access sewer systems via confined space manholes. Typically you are going to need to use a certified anchorage system such as FrenchCreek’s Portal Davit System.
Another distinction between certified and non-certified anchors are the type of individuals permitted to deem them for safe use.
Certified Anchorages are identified by a qualified person.
OSHA defines a qualified person as 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.
In contrast, non-certified anchors can be selected by a competent person.
OSHA defines a competent person as 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.
Depending on your application, your certified/non-certified maximums may be different. Use the chart below to determine the requirements.
We hope this clears up the question of certified vs. non-certified anchors. Check out FrenchCreek’s inventory of fall protection anchors, and feel free to give us a call at 877.228.9327 with any questions.