Roof Anchors Explained

Roof Anchors are the most common piece in the permanent window washing equipment industry. This article will help you better understand what a roof anchor is and why they are so popular.

A roof anchor at first glance is a very simple product, a basic post with a u-bar attached to the top. Looks can be deceiving and when it comes to roof anchors there is much more than meets the eye. Several factors need to be taken into consideration when designing and manufacturing a roof anchor. First we must know that the intent of the roof anchor is to protect the people who otherwise may be exposed to a fall. A typical Pro-Bel roof anchor is designed to meet a 1,000 lbs static load and a 5,000 lbs ultimate load. The static load is the allowance for a constant fixed load to be placed on the anchor. The ultimate load is a one time force in which the anchor is permitted to bend but may not fracture or detach. Some areas have regulations for roof anchors that are much stricter such as California.

What does a roof anchor look like?

Above there are several roof anchors and some addition products such as wall anchors, horizontal lifeline components and rigging sleeves.

When purchasing roof anchors you first need to know how the anchor will be attached to the structure. Some popular options include welding to an i-beam, casting in place, bolting through the structure, adhesive bolts and wrapping around a beam. Next you need to know what size you would like the anchor to be. Standard Pro-Bel sizes for roof anchors include 12″, 15″ and 18″. We can make anchors larger or smaller however changes to the standard design may be required such as increasing the outside diameter of the anchor if it must be taller. If you do not know how tall your anchor must be there is a general rule of thumb; the anchor should typically be 8″ above the finished roofing material to allow for flashing.

What is a roof anchor used for?

All roof anchors serve a single purpose; to protect workers from a fall. Building owners are required to provide workers and contractors with a work place free from recognized hazards. Such hazards may include window cleaning from height or simple maintenance such as cleaning our gutters. When a worker may be exposed to a fall they must be provided with adequate equipment for protection.

How does an anchor work?

In window cleaning a minimum of two anchors will be used for each worker. One anchor will be used to support the worker directly tied back to their harness. Additional anchors will be used to support their suspended equipment whether it be a bonus’s chair, powered platform or other form of suspended equipment. An anchor may also be used as part of a horizontal lifeline system in which cable is passed through anchors and connected at end anchor points. In this scenario the worker is attached to the cable opposed to the anchor.

How is a roof anchor system designed?

Pro-Bel offers free design services. We will typically review your building. We will review the roof plan, elevations, all sections and floor plans. The goal is to determine the most effective method of cleaning the building using roof anchors. Once we have determined the correct method we will begin to layout the system to meet national and local codes and standards. The goal is to provide a system that is code compliant, efficient to use and cost effective.

As always it is recommended that you consult a reputable manufacturer such as Pro-Bel when ever designing a window washing equipment or fall protection system. These systems are in place to protect workers from potentially catastrophic accidents. The design of these systems is a highly specialized field.

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