How to tell the difference between rope access and fall arrest anchor points
When carrying out fall arrest and rope access anchor point testing on the Gold Coast, the first thing that must be established is the type or purpose of the anchor points.
There are anchor points designed to be used as fall arrest anchor points only, anchors designed for rope access use and a range of anchor points that have been engineered for both rope access and fall arrest purposes such as M16 concrete mount anchor points.
Though there are a wide range of anchor points on the market and it is vital that you check with the height safety manufacturer and the compliance plate to see what the purpose of the anchor is, the following article will give you a rough idea of types of anchors.
Surface Mount Fall Arrest Anchor Point
A common type of anchor point found on tin roofs when carrying out anchor point certifications on The Gold Coast and Brisbane is the stainless steel surface mount anchor point. Typically it is fixed to the roof with either 8 rivets and 2 roofing screws that go into the purlin/rafter, or 10 rivets all holding it to the surface of the tin sheet.
Some surface mount anchor points have built in shock absorbing connection points such as the one in the image below and must not be used for rope access as the anchor is designed to deform under a shock load and may deploy under abseil use.
Fall arrest anchor points must be rated to 15kN in accordance with AS/NZS 1891.4-2009
Surface Mount Rope Access Anchor Point
The rope access surface mount anchor point is becoming the most common rope access anchor point found when testing anchor points on tin roofs such as colorbond at The Gold Coast. These anchor points are fixed both to the surface of the tin sheeting and into the purlins or rafters, however are typically larger anchor plates and are held with 12 fixings to add strength and support for the anchor point to hold sustained loads.
Rope access anchor points must be rated to 12kN, however industry best practice is to rate them at the 15kN fall arrest standard.
Concrete Mount Anchor Points
The most commonly found anchor point in concrete roofs or panels is the M16 stainless steel eyebolt. Whether the anchor has been chemically fixed into the concrete or mechanically set in like a dynabolt, 16mm concrete anchor points are usually rated to 15kN and can be used for both rope access and fall arrest purposes.
It is important to note that standard M16 concrete mount anchor points must not be loaded in “direct pull” and therefor cannot be used in overhanging soffits if the purpose is to hang directly beneath them.
Some concrete mount anchor points such as the Concretelink anchor below, have a long arm under the eyelet which will bend under the shock of a fall to absorb the impact and can be used for fall arrest purposes only.
Purlin Mount Anchor Points
Purlin mount anchor points are comprised of two main components: a steel support bracket that braces itself beneath the purlin, and an M16 eye bolt that winds into the support bracket holding it into place.
As with the concrete mount anchor points, purlin mount anchors come in both “low profile” or “fall arrest” varieties with short arms or long arms beneath the eyelet for rope access or fall arrest purposes.