Building Owners and property managers must certify their roof anchors within one year!

OSHA has revising and updating its general industry standards on walking-working surfaces to prevent and reduce workplace falls, as well as other injuries and fatalities associated with window cleaning and suspended stage work.

Significant changes are included for fall protection systems, including identified, tested, certified, awindow-cleaning-high-rise-copynd maintained each anchorage. The rule becomes effective on January 17, 2017, and will affect all Pro-Bel systems through out the USA except for California and New York. Its important to contact Pro-Bel inspection department at 1-800-461-0575. Please note certification of Pro-Bel systems can only be inspected, tested and certified by Pro-Bel or a Pro-Bel authorized agent.

OSHA addressed the category with the second largest compliance costs, scaffolds and rope descent systems, the final standard provides greater specificity than the proposal regarding the need for proper rigging, including sound anchorages and tiebacks. The final rule at § 1910.27(b)(1)(i) and (ii) states that before any rope descent system is used, the building owner must inform the employer, in writing that the building owner has identified, tested, certified, and maintained each anchorage so it is capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds (22.2 kN) in any direction, for each employee attached and, moreover, that the employer must ensure that no employee uses any anchorage before the employer has obtained written information from the building owner that each anchorage meets the requirements of paragraph (b)(1)(i). Finally, the employer must keep the information on building anchorages for the duration of the job. The information must be based on an annual inspection conducted by a qualified person, with certification of each anchorage performed by a qualified person, as necessary, but at least every 10 years. As described earlier in this cost analysis, OSHA assumed that building owners and employers would comply with this requirement by scheduling periodic inspections and certifications of building anchorages.

Feel free to contact Marc Lebel, CEO @ 1800-461-0575

Why is the initial inspection important to the General Contractor?

 

Since I began managing the Pro-Bel US Inspection Department back in 2014, we have completed over 3500 annual inspections on roof anchors, davits, monorail, rigging sleeves and fall protection systems.

While most inspections go as planned, there are those systems that have not been inspected for years. For one reason or another, the system was not installed per the drawings and the final drawings do not correspond to the installation which may be a surprise to the Property Manager.

There are a myriad of reasons as to why the roof anchor system may not be installed per plans and specifications, however, if an initial inspection was performed prior to substantial completion of the project, all deficiencies would have been addressed and documented.

An initial inspection would not only ensure that the end users have a system that is safe and compliant, but would also protect the General Contractor from litigation.

So, what is an initial inspection and how do you sign up for one?

An initial inspection is just what it says.  It is a first time/initial “technical audit inspection”. Pro-Bel inspects for system defects, compliance issues and as-built locations of equipment. Our inspectors take photos of the equipment installed and document both positive and negative findings.  We will work with you to ensure that any deficiencies are corrected.

The second component to this initial inspection is having the equipment load tested as prescribed by our Engineering Department.  The load test may be important if there is any question about installation or structural integrity of the building.

If there is an issue with the structure, it is much easier and more cost effective to install reinforcing when the ceilings are open during construction rather than trying to retrofit an occupied building years later.

At Pro-Bel, our goal is to help General Contractors deliver a complete system to their clients so that there are no issues in the coming years with respect to safety, compliance or inspection after the building is turned over to the owner.

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One of our US Inspectors on-site

Pro-Bel has the largest network of certified inspectors and technicians in the industry and we are looking forward to earning and keeping your trust.

General Contractors can contact Brian Barks at brianb@pro-bel.ca to obtain a bid to have Pro-Bel perform the recommended initial inspection.
 

– Brent LaPorte, US Inspections Manager

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Spring!

Well, we are a couple of weeks into spring and in both our personal and professional lives we look forward to spring cleaning.  Maybe not look forward to it, but it is inevitable that cob webs need to be swept away, lawns need to be fertilized and windows need to be cleaned.

Most of our clients are on an annual roof anchor inspection program where we proactively book the inspection so that there is no delay in getting their windows cleaned.

However, we do get the odd emergency call for an anchor inspection because the sirentenants of a residential or commercial building are continually asking “When are we getting the windows washed?”

Thankfully, we have a team of inspection professionals across North America who can be on your facility often, within days of receiving such a call.

While we do our best to spread these annual inspections throughout the year, spring is our busiest season.

Our sales team of Beverly Bean and newly hired, Brian Barks, can provide you with a proposal to have your roof anchors, roof davits, monorail or fall protection systems inspected in a timely fashion.  With our electronic report writing system and customer portal, you can have the system approved for use and have access to your reports and roof anchor drawings with little or no effort on your part.

If you are not part of the growing number of clients who are enjoying the benefit of the Customer Portal, please contact us to see how you can gain access to all of your roof anchor inspection documents and rigging drawings.  You can access this portal from any device and download and share with your window cleaning contractors or with any compliance officials who may visit your site to check your documentation.

Everything that our team at Pro-Bel has come up with, that is available to any of our clients, is to ensure you have easy access to all of your inspection documents at all times.

The two most important documents that your professional window cleaner will want to see are the inspection report and the rigging drawings which show the roof anchor locations, roof anchor details and any notes with respect to restricted areas and rigging diagrams.

If you do not have access to your up to date inspection report or rigging drawings, documentsplease contact Pro-Bel to provide you with both.  If you do not have rigging drawings, our technicians can perform an initial inspection and identify existing roof anchors or roof davits, complete a take off and provide rigging advice and ultimately approve the equipment for use.

 

So, as we look forward to longer, warmer days, we are also reminded of some of those “chores” that must be done.  Pro-Bel can assist you in checking at least one item off of your long list of to do items.  This will ensure that you get your windows washed in a timely fashion and when your tenants look out their home or office windows, they do so with a smile.

To our existing clients, thank you for the opportunity to serve you, and to new clients, we look forward to working with you.

To book a new inspection please contact Brian Barks at brianb@pro-bel.ca or existing clients with questions please contact Account Manager Beverly Bean at beverlyb@pro-bel.ca.  Load testing or maintenance should be directed to Michael Gardner at michaelg@pro-bel.ca.  Of course you can call us direct at 800-461-0575.

As always, if you have any comments, complaints, or questions, feel free to contact me direct and I will do my best to ensure that your concerns or questions are answered quickly and to your complete satisfaction.

Yours in safety,

 

Brent La Porte

 

 

“The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop” – Mark Twain

Interesting quote from one of the wittiest authors of all time.  As I create an outline for my monthly blog, I am reminded that sometimes too much information is truly too much information, particularly when discussing the dynamic topic of roof anchor inspections.

We in the industry are inclined to throw all sorts of codes and standards at our prospective clients, advising how Federal OSHA and ANSI I-14 mandate that the permanently installed fall protection equipment be inspected on an annual basis by a competent person and citing section numbers that quite frankly, I have to look up every time I’m asked.

So, in keeping with the theme I will tell you all what I know and then stop.

 I KNOW THAT …

  • If you have roof anchors, roof davits or any type of fall protection equipment on your facility that it MUST be inspected on an annual basis.
  •  This is required by not only ANSI and Federal OSHA but by every major equipment manufacturer.
  •  Every day across the United States tens of thousands of workers put their lives at risk by performing dangerous tasks either while suspended 40 floors above a busy street or walking a narrow beam or ledge in a bustling factory.
  •  These workers rely on the equipment they are attached to or suspended by to be in good working order to ensure they get home safely to their families every
  •  Having this equipment inspected and maintained, annually as a minimum requirement, is the first step in protecting your workers and contractors from harm.
  •  The cost of an annual inspection cannot be compared to the cost of a human life or to the quality of human life.
  •  If we had to quantify the cost of an annual inspection against the cost of an OSHA fine or civil litigation that it would not even be 1% of 1%.
  •  Most folks are not intentionally disregarding having these inspections done.
  •  By educating our current and prospective clients that we will earn and retain their business for years to come.
  •  I have the most diverse and experienced team of technicians across North America.
  •  My in house staff is efficient and dedicated to providing our clients a superior service experience.
  •  As a client if you are not satisfied with the service you received I will personally make it right.

Lastly, I know that if you call and ask me where it says you have to have your roof anchors inspected that I will have to look it up and send you the link. I also know that I’ll be happy to do it.

 As always, contact me direct with any questions, comments or concerns.

Brent La Porte

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on by Stephen | Leave a comment

“Whose Liability is it Anyways?”

It’s the end of a successful 2015 and as a Department Manager I am inclined to sit back and reflect on what my department did well, what we did not do well and on how we can grow the business while continuing to exceed our customer’s expectations.

This type of introspection forces me to look at just what our “business” really is. Sure we at Pro-Bel inspect and load test roof anchors, roof davits and most other types of fall protection equipment. But what service do we really offer our clients?

Clearly it is important to have the Federal OSHA mandated roof anchor/davit inspections conducted, but when I really delve into what we are offer our clients I find myself settling on peace of mind.

The peace of mind we offer is truly a form of risk management in that as a property manager, facility manager or building owner, you can rest assured that the inspection of the equipment by Pro-Bel has been completed by competent, honest and reliable technicians.

Of course this peace of mind is provided if your facility has suitable roof anchors/roof davits which have been designed and engineered for the purpose of which they are being used. What if your facility does not have roof anchors or fall protection? How is Pro-Bel meeting your needs with respect to managing risk on those buildings and how can we be of service moving forward?

Over the past few weeks I’ve had some interesting conversations with Marc Lebel, our Founder and CEO, regarding this very topic and it seemed to me to be a natural fit for the first blog of 2016.

Marc and I are working together to see how we can help building owners identify and manage the risk associated with not only workers performing suspended maintenance work on our clients buildings, but any worker who is accessing the roof. This ranges from your own staff to HVAC Service Technicians. At any given time these workers may be exposed to the hazard of a fall of 4’ or greater and as such some form of fall protection shall be provided by the controlling employer.

Stage FailBut, who is the controlling employer? Is it the owner of the HVAC or window cleaning company or is it the property management firm or the Board of Directors of the condominium corporation? This question (through Marc’s help) has led me to an interesting document which discusses Federal OSHA’s Multi-Employer Citation Policy.

In this policy Federal OSHA defines the four types of employers and discusses their responsibilities throughout a project or task. The four types of employers are the Controlling Employer, Creating Employer, Exposing Employer and Correcting Employer.

While I won’t go into detail in this particular blog, I will advise that throughout 2016 Pro-Bel will assist our clients as to what category they fall into and how, by identifying this, they can minimize exposure and risk of civil and criminal liability.

Through a program we are developing, we will identify hazards on a particular project, whether or not there is existing fall protection and develop a program as to how to protect workers from injury and controlling employers from risk of liability.

We will educate our clients on codes and standards, common rigging practices and options available to ensure that any recognized hazards are eliminated.

Our goal is not to just provide our clients with roof anchors or roof davits. We want clients with a risk management issue to know that there are alternatives and assist them in developing a plan to minimize the risk which explores all of the options.

In 2016 Pro-Bel will work with you to explain your liability and exposure when allowing any person on your roof and how to ensure that this access is controlled.

Pro-Bel will be sending out regular updates on this blog throughout 2016, posting data that is both interesting and informative. We look forward to your comments, questions and concerns regarding anything to do with fall protection, roof safety, roof anchors or roof davits.

Yours in safety,

Brent LaPorte

 

 

 

Brent LaPorte

USA Inspections Manager

We are hiring Technical Sales Support Representative

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https://www.ziprecruiter.com/quiz/bb8436c7/post

Technical Sales Support Representative Role:

We are looking for a technically-oriented individual to join our sales support team. This person will provide day-to-day assistance to our technical sales managers. As part of the sales team, this position will also help support new revenue growth by working with the technical sales managers in developing and delivering sales and design proposals, answering RFP and RFQs for our new and existing customer base.

The Sales Support Representative Duties:

• Provide first line, inbound, technical support and guidance for our customers (Architects & Engineers, General Contractors, Facility Managers, and Property Managers/Building Owners).
• Be responsible for overall coordination and execution of tasks related to sales opportunities and technical customer support inquiries.
• Own the creation and workflow management in our internal CRM system of qualified sales opportunities and technical support opportunity management by creating, updating and maintaining leads, prospects and opportunities as information is gathered reactively or proactively.
• Work with the General Sales Manager and/or Engineering department when responding to product information requests.
• Help maintain a paperless work environment (whenever practical), ensuring all external interactions are captured in our sales system, are accurate, and up to date
• Ability to facilitate and deliver sales product demonstrations, in person or online (i.e. go to meeting now) or other sales actions as needed.
• Respond to technical service calls / emails from regional customers and provide support
• Identify new sales opportunities using our marketing process.
• Work with marketing to set up and work tradeshows as needed.

Knowledge/Skills/Experience Recommendations:

• Strong work ethic, efficiency, organizational skills and attention to detail
• Excellent telephone and email etiquette
• Sales and technical support experience with demonstrated ability to convey information verbally
• Technical aptitude with ability to learn and understand how to explain our products and technology
• Experience working with and/or reading architectural and structural drawings
• Ability to qualify customer situations, relate product features/benefits and respond to issues
• Skilled user of Word, Excel, and CRM software.

Wood Frame Buildings

A significant change to the Ontario Building Code (OBC) was just revealed that positively affects the fall arrest anchor and tie-back equipment industry. It was recently announced that wood frame buildings can be built up to six storeys tall in Ontario (which is an increase from four storeys) effective January 1, 2015.

Since roof anchor systems are required for maintenance and window washing equipment on buildings that are eight metres tall (usually over three storeys); our industry will see a dramatic shift from concrete and steel mid-rise to wood frame mid-rise.

The OBC change reflects codes in most European and some North American areas. Specifically, the change was made in British Columbia in 2009 and our Vancouver office is regularly seeing projects come through the door with wood frame (probably because of the affordability to the building Owner and the growing demand for mid-rise by the consumer).

 

While there are certainly challenges with putting our equipment on wood frame buildings there is always a solution.

The equipment should be close to the edge of the building (parapet) and utilize a pinned down outrigger beam to rig. The close proximity to the parapet eliminates a lot of inboard distance and decreases the force on the structure. This method also pulls the anchor away (perpendicular) upward from the structure which decreases the stress on the structure opposed to pulling horizontally (parallel) with the structure. Check out the pinned down outrigger beam detail below.

Portable Pinned Down Outrigger Beam

Like all roof anchors, the load requirements are still 1,000 lbs. (working) and 5,000 lbs. (ultimate). So to achieve this the structure around it must be “blocked up” similar in fashion to reinforcing certain steel structure (like open web steel joist).  There are a couple of examples of a wood structure roof anchors below (however modifications can be Engineered to accommodate the structure).

Wrap Around Wood Anchor

Wood Joist Roof Anchor

Also, like all projects, communication with us (the roof anchor manufacturer) and the Structural Engineer is crucial as all parties need to know specifically where the equipment is going and understand the load requirements.

You can read the news release at http://news.ontario.ca/mah/en/2014/09/ontario-increases-allowable-height-of-wood-frame-buildings-to-six-storeys.html

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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!

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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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Equipment on Terraces

As architects continue to imagine and design complex projects; it is becoming increasingly common that fall arrest and tie-back equipment are located on terraces of buildings.

As the condominium market is still as competitive as ever; builders and developers are coming up with special features and incentives to lure buyers.  Items like barbecues, bars, built in kitchens, gardens, lounges, hot tubs, patio furniture, and even pools are frequently being included on terraces of buildings.  While these are great selling features for buyers, they do create complications when designing window washing and fall protection systems.

why inspection

These condominiums are so lucrative that every detail is considered.  Therefore, as much of the buildings equipment is hidden as possible in common areas and private terraces (to not disrupt the aesthetics).  This usually means on terraces that our equipment is recessed under some sort of removable paver stones.  This regularly causes two major problems:

1)      the paver stones over the recessed equipment are not actually removable
2)      items are placed over top the recessed equipment

If it is planned accordingly there is a simple solution for problem “1)” as there are covers and inserts that can be manufactured and installed in paver stones that allow for them to be (rather easily) removed whenever recessed equipment (underneath them) require access.

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If the design of the window washing and fall protection system is provided to the architect then the architect can review to ensure there are no disruptions.

What should the architect review?

1)      They should ensure that no items (the special feature and incentives mentioned above or any others) are placed over top the recessed equipment.
2)      They should confirm items that are in line with the point of suspension (perpendicular from the parapet to the equipment) will not interfere with the rigging lines.

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This is where problem “2)” can become complicated.  The architect and equipment manufacturer have communicated and reviewed all of the areas but then a tenant installs a deck and built in kitchen on their terrace (usually without contacting the condominium corporation).  This makes accessing the recessed equipment nearly impossible which may mean a drop of windows cannot be washed or a section of the building façade cannot be maintained.

While usually a worker can move some items like small barbecues or potted plants, some items like large barbecues or large planter boxes simply cannot be moved.  A worker in some cases may not even want to move anything because they are concerned about damaging the property.

It must be stressed to tenants the importance of communicating any additions and modifications to their terrace that they are making.  The tenant should notify the condominium corporation and then the condominium corporation should contact the window washing and fall protection system manufacturer.  Also, the condominium corporation should notify tenants when the equipment is going to be inspected or used so that the tenant can remove any items that are over the recessed equipment.

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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.

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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 http://www.pro-bel.ca/blog/category/basics-of-fall-protection/)

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.

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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

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Budget

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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