Category Archives: Engineering a Complete Anchor System



On January 17, 2017 OSHA published changes to Sub Part D – Walking Working Surfaces which have a significant impact on building owners and employer’s responsibilities.

These changes include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Mandatory roof anchorages for window cleaners
  2. Mandatory fall protection on low sloped roofs – varying distances where fall protection is required depending on frequency and type of work being conducted
  3. Mandatory fall protection on permanent fixed ladders – fall protection or cages now required to be designed into ladder system


For the first time in OSHA’s history, Rope Descent Systems (RDS) are defined in the Regulation along with requirements for building owners to identify, test, certify and maintain suitable and adequate anchorages capable of supporting an ultimate load of 5000 lbs per employee attached. This does have an impact on what type of product you must specify.


OSHA has set varying compliance dates with respect to each amended section. It is important that you understand and integrate these changes into your specifications when designing a building where fall hazards exist.


Pro-Bel will help you understand the code changes and ensure that the specification and drawings you are issuing incorporate these changes to prevent costly change orders and possible litigation between design teams and building owners/developers.


Please contact Pro-Bel 1-800-461-0575 or e-mail to discuss these important changes.

Engineering a Complete Anchor System: Part 2

Since inception, Pro-Bel’s purpose has been to protect workers from falls.  The selection of fall protection, suspended maintenance, and window washing equipment to create an effective and efficient system is highly specialized and requires in depth knowledge of rigging methods / practices and safety regulations.

The Anchor Family

There are two common misconceptions related to the design of these systems.

1)    There is one standardized system.  Actually, each building is different in many ways and requires an individual approach and review (from the layout, quantity, and type of equipment.

2)    A design just needs to meet code.  While it is crucial that a design meets all of the codes, guidelines, regulations, and standards; it is also important that systems work.  It is not uncommon to see a design that meets code requirements but it will not allow a worker to perform their duties in an effective and efficient manner.  It is imperative that a design considers how workers will use equipment to alleviate function issues.

The local jurisdictional authorities are concerned with issues of fall protection and pay close attention to current codes.

ANSI I-14.1 is a leading standard in the United States (<—click to read more)

OSHA has several code requirements (including New York Code Rule 21 and CAL-OSHA)

CSA in Canada (<—click to read more) has very strict requirements relating to such equipment (along with specific provincial requirements such as the Ontario Ministry of Labour and British Columbia WCB rules).

Those are just a small sample size of all of the federal, provincial / state, regional, and international requirements.  The interpretation of each is certainly a daunting task!


It is for the reasons noted above that Pro-Bel offers architects, building owners, construction managers, engineers, and general contractors a free design service for fall protection, suspended maintenance, and window washing equipment / systems.  This service includes a proposed layout, customized specification, and equipment details that will consider the codes, cost, effectiveness, and efficiency.

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Engineering a Complete Anchor System: Part 1

Fall arrest and tie-back anchors are primarily designed to protect workers from falls while working on or over the roof edge.

While a clear understanding of codes, regulations, and standards is of the utmost importance; the first consideration (after safety of course) is function when designing proper window washing, suspended maintenance, and fall protection systems.  Often buildings will install a system only to meet the needs to comply with building codes, Federal standards, and safety regulations.  It is however essential to consider function to achieve and ensure long term success of any system.


What is Function?

Firstly, you must consider what type of work is being completed while the system is in use?

  • Window washing
  • Exterior building maintenance (caulking, restoration, replacement, etc.)
  • Fixing/servicing/replacing equipment (cooling tower, drains, mechanical units) on the roof

(If you would like to read more about this then please see

Secondly, you must consider if the workers will think the system is convenient and easy to use.  This beyond anything else is the first thing that will jeopardize a workers safety.  Like all professions really, a worker will bypass or modify elements of the system if they believe it is inefficient and slowing down their pace.


Technical Audits

It is fortunate to note that building technical audits (for warranty programs) are becoming more concerned with inadequately designed and impractical systems.  The audits are bringing this to the building’s attention as a way of saying that the inconvenient system is just as dangerous as a poorly engineered system because no worker will use it.

The Design Process

If you want to ensure that a system is compliant and efficient; manufacturers like Pro-Bel will work closely with architects, construction manager, engineers, and general contractors to provide design services which encourage and initiate discussions regarding the design (at an early stage of the design process).

This process seeks to:

  • Collect and analyze safe access and egress methods
  • Determine unique building needs
  • Establish functional and common relationship in equipment locations
  • Establish maintenance goals
  • State conventional rigging problems and methods
  • Uncover test methods and inspection practices



This process also looks to balance budget, compliance, and function.  It must be stressed that caution should be used when budget is the main consideration for any design (as functionality is the first factor to go).

The design process discussions have a significant impact on the design of the system (and building even) as there are various perspectives included in the conversation.  It is almost a way of conducting thorough due diligence and quality assurance.

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