Ladder Types

Ladders comprise an almost infinite combination of steps and handholds for ascent and descent from one level to another. In general, there are 12 inches between each level, and the horizontal gripping element and foot placement are called “rungs”.  Rungs can be supported by side rails at each end, typically 16-18 inches apart.  If ladders can be moved by hand or crane, they are called portable.  If they are bolted or welded to the structure, they are called fixed.  Sidestep refers to rungs that continue up and the climber steps to a platform at the side.  A walk-through is a series of rungs that stop, but the side rails continue up and the climber exits to a platform between the side rails.

See “Introduction to Fall Protection, 4th Edition” page 121.

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Hazards – Lanyards used for Fall Protection

It is common practice for a worker to wrap a lanyard around a structural steel section for protection against falling.  It was discovered during laboratory testing that 5/8-inch-wide (16 mm) 3-strand nylon lanyards lost up to 90% of their original strength when arresting a fall.  The test was performed according to CSA Standard Z259.1-M1976.  Similar tests on 7/8-inch-wide nylon web lanyards ended with no arrest at all.  In both cases the lanyards’ loss of strength was caused by cutting action of the edges of the I-beam.

See “Introduction to Fall Protection, 4th Edition” page 92.

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First Worker Up Fall Protection

Rigging a first-worker-up fall protection system generally follows a pre-determined sequence of steps:

  • To identify a suitable anchor point;
  • To attach a temporary anchorage connecting component, such as an anchor strap, using a remote connecting device;
  • To attach the connecting lanyard or self-retracting lanyard of the personal fall arrest system to the temporary anchorage connector;
  • To connect the lanyard or self-retracting lanyard to the body support harness; and
  • To verify that all conncections are secure before ascending.

See “Introduction to Fall Protection, 4th Edition” page 319.

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Harness Maintenance

Under no circumstances should any user punch extra holes in a harness leg strap or reduce it from its manufactured length.  Moreover, if the user can only pull the webbing through the buckle to the first grommet, then a larger belt should be requested.

Note that friction buckles can loosen over time unless webbings remain taut.  Tongue buckles can come undone if excess webbing is not held securely due to snagging.  In addition, tongue buckles can uncouple if they are loose (especially on harnesses).  Therefore users must make sure they inspect their harnesses closely prior to each use.

See “Introduction to Fall Protection, 4th Edition” pages 202-203.

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Lifelines – Rope Weights

Rope Weights on Lifelines. Weighted lines are very important to keep lifeline slack from developing as the scaffold moves up from grade.  However, in some windy conditions, rope weights could damage the building, especially windows.  Physically securing the bottom of the line could be the answer in this case.  In addition, proper termination of a rope can prevent unraveling of the strands.

See “Introduction to Fall Protection, 4th Edition” page 235.

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Anchorage Point Independence

Are anchorage points independent?  The independence of each anchor point from the main work-positioning anchor support is an important principle.  Where tripods or the building or structure itself are concerned, the question to address is, what kind of failure would likely produce an injury? Anchor-point design should address all predictable scenarios.

Is the fall protection system engineered?  An engineered system may permit the lifelines for several workers to be combined, as long as they are separate from the main work-positioning support.

See “Introduction to Fall Protection, 4th Edition” page 275.

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Controlled Descent

There is no need to risk prolonged suspension after a fall arrest when it is possible to use an automatic controlled-descent system.  Rather than using equipment that arrests a fall but also could create a need for a difficult and costly high-level rescue, workers should use a lifeline system that automatically lowers them at a constant rate following a fall – either immediately or under rescur control, whichever is appropriate.  This is especially adventageous for external applications without obstructions below and for large confined spaces with a lower (bottom) means of egress, such as a generating or recovery boiler.  Postfall analysis is essential to solving such problems completely; often it indicates the need to substitute controlled descent systems.

See “Introduction to Fall Protection, 4th Edition” page 212.

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Unless the metal has a large enough cross section as judged by a fall protection Qualifed Person, every steel part should be coated with zinc to protect it from salt, air, or other common corrosion and to prolong its useful service life.  Because of the possibility of chemical reactions causing corrosion, aluminum parts should be anodized if the parts may come into contact with steel.

Stain-less steel cables, springs, and other critical parts are favored over regular steel parts, but many zinc-aluminum alloys also can work, depending on the salinity, frequency, and duration of exposure.

See “Introduction to Fall Protection, 4th Edition” page 257.

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Vertical Cable Climbing Systems

Cable guides that do not require manual manipulation to pass them are preferable.  Weather-resistant, synthetic cables that have long lifetimes in corrosive atmospheres are available.  They offer the additional advantage of radio-frequency transparency for antennas.  Synthetic cables must be protected  from wind abrasion, with the structure by suitable clearance spacing.

Telecommunications tower cable-type fall protection systems and Z-bracket rungs which may be less than 3/4 inches diameter and less than 16 inches width, must meet test requirements.

A very important principle of climbing, using vertical cable-type fall arrestors is to never hold the cable for any reason. The reason for this is to prevent the transfer of weight through the handhold above the sleeve, and thereby stop or limit the  gripping arrest of the line by the sleeve itself.

See “Introduction to Fall Protection, 4th Editionpage 322.

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Fall Protection System Components

Both the employer and employee should realize that components of a fall protection system may not be interchangeable.  For instance, if a commodity-grade rope is used for a lifeline, the authorizing authority must be certain that is the correct diameter and has the test strength for use with a specific rope-grab device on a prolonged basis.

Components of a fall arrest system should note be substituted or changed unless fully evaluated and tested by a qualified person or the equipment manufacturer.

See “Introduction to Fall Protection, 4th Edition” pages 253-254.

Order your copy of “Introduction to Fall Protection, 4th Edition” today.  This invaluable resource will take you from the structure design stage to post construction maintenance. Click to find out more!