Common Sense Safety: Anchorage Points

Editor's Note: Chris Williams, Industrial Safety Training and Compliance, writes in response to the January 2006 Perspective, “Open Dialogue for Fall Protection

Thank you for once again addressing this critical and often misunderstood topic. I know it gets old having to rehash the same topic over and over. But as your article points out, safety fires never go out completely. They always smolder, just waiting for fresh fuel and victims. Looks like this company has a good supply of both and just can't wait to get burned!

I thought the article brought out some very valid points from some very knowledgeable safety professionals. However I thought they missed two very vital points.

First, the anchorage point was designed to handle forces exerted inside the basket, especially in respect to machine stability. Once these loads are applied outside the basket it has the potential to quickly overload and exceed design parameters. The risk of causing a tipover or other design failure is greatly increased.

Take note of the likely scenarios that will occur should a fall actually take place:

  • During the fall one could expect to make contact with some part of the basket with a strong likelihood of injury.
  • Once you fall to maximum force potential and all components are fully stressed, you will most certainly experience a recoil effect from the boom and lanyard. So if you liked the first fall, hang on • there's more to follow. This would almost certainly result in you being recoiled back into the frame of the basket and then dropped again.
  • Now that you have fallen, recoiled, and fallen again, crashed into several hard objects, and had your insides shaken violently, you get to hang there helplessly like a “dope on a rope.” That's assuming you did not manage to topple the aerial lift during this process.
  • Are you where someone can rescue you? Are you working alone or out of sight of others?
  • What is the potential for this person experiencing suspension trauma?

Second, why do employers and employees feel it is an absolute requirement that there must be a regulation, standard or some other regulatory rule created and widely distributed to keep them from doing something they know is inherently dangerous and foolish? Listen to your common sense and natural instinct to avoid pain and death when it tells you not to do something. Why do some work so hard to justify committing unsafe practices?

Occupational Safety is not about law or policy and we are not “safety cops.” We are dedicated safety professionals working very hard to prevent and eliminate occupational injuries and deaths. We do not need a law, regulation, standard, rule or policy in place before we can take action and not allow unsafe practices to take place or go unchecked. Safe is safe, rule or not! Now that is common sense.

Best Regards,

Chris Williams

About the Author: 

Chris Williams

Chris Williams, Chief Master Instructor, Industrial Safety Training and Compliance, Goodyear, Ariz.