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       The Myth of the 5000 lb. Anchor Point

                                 (Does it Exist in 2019)

      Choosing the                                                                      What most people miss at
      right anchor                                                                      the end of this is clause
      point can be                                                                      is the “or.” Continuing on,
      difficult.                                                                        OSHA says, “or shall be

      The main criteria most                                                            designed, installed, and used
                                                                                        as follows: as part of a com-
      people look for when                                                              plete personal fall  arrest
      shopping for an anchor                                                            system which maintains a
      point is that it will with-                                                       safety factor of at least two;”
      stand a 5000 lbs. load.
                                                                                        The next code, 1926.502(d)
                                                                                        (16), speaks of these person-
      Though that is the main                                                           al fall arrest systems.
      selling feature on some
      anchor points, there are times when your attachment       Jumping down to 1926.502(d)(16)(v), speaking of per-
      may fail before 5000 lbs. What good is an anchor          sonal fall arrest systems (ie, anchor points, lifelines,
      point that can hold 5000 lbs when it will shear off       etc.), OSHA states the anchorage must, “...have
      your wall or building far before reaching its capac-      sufficient strength to withstand twice the potential
                                                                impact energy of an employee free falling a distance
      A 5000 lbs. anchor point may                              of 6 feet (1.8 m), or the free fall distance permitted by
                                                                the system, whichever is less.”
      not be required according
      to OSHA.                                                  There seems to be various theories as to why OSHA
      By misinterpreting the OSHA ruling on anchor points,      settled on 5000 lbs. In fact, when testing systems,
      you are significantly limiting yourself in areas that     you are required to use a weight of 220 lbs. (plus or
      are already lacking options. Let’s clear up what          minus 3 lbs.) at a freefall of 6’ [29 CFR 1926 Subpart
      OSHA says about the load requirements of anchor           M Appendix C].
                                                                The system would fail the force test if it recorded
      Why do we believe this 5000                               greater than 2520 lbs. of force during this test. If the
      lbs rule?                                                 system passes, a safety factor of two applied to 2520
                                                                lbs. would be approximately 5000 lbs. However, 5000
      For starters, OSHA 1926.502(d)(15) says “Anchorages  lbs. is where many people stop reading.
      used for attachment of personal fall arrest equip-
      ment shall be … capable of supporting at least 5,000      Why does this matter?
      pounds (22.2 kN) per employee attached…”
                                                                It matters because the forces incurred during a fall
      This is certainly the simplest method of                  of a 220 lb. worker who is utilizing a fall arrest system
      ensuring compliance. However, stopping here does          could be approximately 900 lbs., not 2500 lbs. Rea-
      not allow specific fall hazards to be addressed due       son being that fall arrest systems have some type of
      to a lack of structural integrity.                        deceleration device that engages after freefall and
                                                                reduces the force.

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