Are Metal Roof Anchors Safe?

Are Metal Roof Anchors Safe?

Posted by Howie Scarboro - CEO Fall Protection Distributors, LLC on Mar 1st 2021

Roof anchors can be a necessary part of a roof worker's tool kit. These devices keep the roofer safe while they work. By law, some metal roof anchor is necessary when work is done on a roof. There are specific standards and obligations a metal roof anchor has to fulfill to be considered safe.

Metal Roof Anchors

Metal roof anchors attach workers to the roofs they work on for safety. These anchors connect to a lifeline and then to a harness that the roofer wears. The anchor prevents the roofer from falling accidentally. If a roofer does fall off the roof, their lifeline attached to the metal roof anchor will stop them from hitting a lower level.

Metal roof anchor use during construction projects saves lives.

Since roofers depend on metal roof anchors for safety, people need to understand metal roof anchor proper use. These devices prevent the deaths and injuries of construction workers. They are necessary safety equipment for construction and home development workers for houses and buildings.

Roof Anchor Safety Guidelines

Not all roof anchors are equally safe. There are standards, certifications, and laws that indicate when a roof anchor is necessary and if a particular metal roof anchor is secure to use. Construction firms and workers must follow these regulations by law to protect their workers. Firms must also train their workers on metal roof anchor proper use.

There are several kinds of roof anchors workers use. Some of them are static roof anchors, and some of them might have swivels for more mobility. Both big and small projects require roof anchors, along with harnesses and lifelines for construction worker safety. The equipment works together as a part of a personal fall arrest system.

Personal Fall Arrest System

Roof workers face many dangerous situations while they work. These hazards include working at a tall height, using ladders, power tools, excess noise, and extreme temperatures. Under these circumstances, workers can quickly lose awareness of their safety while they work. Accidents and injuries are prone to happen without proper safety equipment.

The number one cause of death in the construction industry is falling. In the ten years between 2003 and 2013, the US faced 3500 construction fatalities. Thirty-four percent of these deaths occurred when a worker fell off a roof.

One of the most critical factors construction and home improvement firms must consider is their workers' safety. That means they must identify potential hazards in any project they take and equip their employees with the tools and gear they will need to complete their work safely.

The metal roof anchor is a part of the personal fall arrest system for construction workers or the PFAS. The PFAS works to safely stop a worker from falling at the height of six feet or higher.

A personal fall arrest system has three primary pieces. The first is the anchorage, where the lanyard or lifeline attaches to. These are metal roof anchors or other devices where the lanyard can connect. The second component is a full-body harness that the worker wears.

Finally, there is the lanyard, connector, or lifeline, which connects the harness to the anchorage. Usually, these connectors are a self-retracting line, a lanyard with shock-absorption, or a deceleration device. Together, this equipment increases worker safety should any accidents happen in an elevated space.

OSHA Standards for PFAS

By law, all parts of the PFAS have to meet particular standards. That includes metal roof anchors. The Occupational Safety and Health Act or OSHA of 1970 sets the standards and regulates what equipment is safe for workers to use on the job.

Under the OSHA, fall arrest systems must stop a worker from falling more than six feet to a lower level. (29 CFR 1926.502(d)(16)(iii)). For metal roof anchors, in particular, OSHA states that the roof anchor must have the capability to support 5,000 pounds of weight for every worker attached to the anchor.

Another part of this OSHA standard is that the person who installs the anchor must be qualified or under the supervision of a qualified worker who is qualified to install the anchor. (29 CFR 1926.502(d)(15)). For a metal roof anchor to be safe, it must be able to carry the necessary weight for every worker, and a qualified worker must install the anchor.

Metal Roof Anchor Installation

When installing a roof anchor, some general guidelines are not to attach anchors to house sheathing, single trusses, or most kinds of guardrails. These are surfaces that aren't strong enough to meet OSHA standards and will put workers in danger.

It is better to attach anchors to a structural member. This is done by placing the fasteners through the sheathing hand into the rafter or truss member below. When the anchor is attached, a worker can attempt to pull the anchor from its position to test its initial resistance.

Workers should replace any shingles and use new nail locations after removing the roof anchor. It is also vital that they put roof sealant into the older nail holes for security. Workers should also take care when removing shingles from the roof during cold weather, as the material might crack.

Following OSHA Requirements for Safety

The OSHA requirements determine which anchors are safe and which anchors are not safe. Construction firms should note that OSHA legally requires PFAS for any project with a potential fall of over 6 feet.

Projects like this must equip workers with a capable metal roof anchor, harness, and some form of a connector. Anyone looking to use a metal roof anchor should look for OSHA certification on the product and then have a qualified person install it on the roof.

Final Thoughts

When considering how safe a metal roof anchor is, they should pay attention to the OSHA standards and see if a particular anchor meets those standards. This equipment is potentially life-saving, and workers feel safer knowing that they have the right gear they need to get the job done safely. 

Howie Scarboro, C.E.O. and co-founder of Fall Protection Distributors, L.L.C., recognized the need for continued improvements in roofing safety during the 2010 MetalCon show in Las Vegas. He joined forces with SnoBlox-Snojax, a leader in snow retention and seam clamping technology for metal roofs, to create the SSRA1 prototype. Tested by Gravitec for OSHA/ANSI certifications, the SSRA1 proved to be the industry's lightest, most robust, and most universal-fit anchor point for standing seam roofs. Fall Protection Distributors, L.L.C. was born in 2015, shaping the future of fall protection and instilling confidence in the industry.