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What kind of fall protection products do I use for an overhead steel beam?

On this week’s episode of Dynamic Discussions, Greg and David help us discover what kind of fall protection products are appropriate for use on an overhead steel beam. Like all fall protection scenarios, you’re going to want to make sure the structural component, in this case, the steel beam, is rated for fall arrest and fall restraint. To determine if the beam is a suitable anchor point, you will need to consult your competent person or a 3rd party qualified person to make sure the beam is properly rated for fall arrest. Once you confirm that the overhead steel structure is rated for fall arrest, the variety of anchors that you can use is expansive. You can use a beam strap, beam trolley, a beam clamp, you could weld on an anchor, or several other anchor options. You could even use a sling-type anchor, as long as the anchor can be attached to the beam and is rated to withstand 5,000 lbs. of force. The overhead beam scenario is a perfect opportunity to use a self-retracting lifeline as the anchorage connector, and then connect the SRL to a standard full-body harness to complete the personal fall arrest system.

What is a 5,000 lb. Anchor? 

When you’re preparing a personal fall arrest system, your safety is only as reliable as your weakest link. When a worker ties off to an anchor, it must be able to withstand the force of a free fall during a fall arrest. That’s why 5,000 lb. anchors are the industry safety standard. According to the OSHA standard 1910.140, if you’re tying off workers for fall protection, the anchor point must be able to support at least 5,000 lbs. per person attached. Anchors must be designed appropriately and tested to prove they can withstand the forces applied to them in the case of an emergency fall arrest.

It’s also important to note a common misconception about a 5,000 lb. anchor. Many may think a 5,000 lb. anchor can withstand the shock of 5,000 lbs. falling, but that is not particularly true. The anchor can support 22.2 kilonewtons of force, which is equivalent to the poundage measurement but not the same as an applied force. It’s surprising to see how much force a grown person can generate when falling, which is why 5,000 lb. anchors are vital.

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Steel Beam Anchors: Cross Arm Strap 

Once you have determined that the beam you’ll be attaching to is a safe anchor point, you can pick your beam anchor. Steel beam anchors come in a variety of forms. The most common steel beam anchor is called a cross-arm strap. These straps are a long piece of high-strength webbing with two D-Ring anchors on each side, a larger one and a smaller one. The strap gets wrapped around the beam and the smaller D-Ring gets fed through the larger D-Ring to create a loop. Once the strap is secured in place, you can attach your connector.

Check out our Cross Arm Straps available in both 4 inches and 6 inches.

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Steel Beam Anchors: Beamers 

Another common form of steel beam anchor is called a beamer, beam walker, trolley, or slider. This family of anchors is designed for easy movement along the beam, allowing workers to have both mobility and safety while working at heights. These devices typically attach directly to the beam and can be adjusted to fit a wide range of beam widths and profiles, providing a versatile and secure point of attachment for personal fall arrest systems.

These fall protection clamps provide a beam clamp tie-off point for H-Beams or I-Beams and can be installed overhead or at foot level (with the approval of a Competent Person). Using adjustable metal hooks, the super sliders and trolleys are fall protection anchor clamps that attach to the flange of steel I or H beam and glide along them as workers move. These fall protection clamps attach without tools and can fit a variety of beam widths.

These anchors are also reusable, so you can easily transport them from project to project with ease!

Sound like the right fit for your site? Our Beam Walker Super Slider 12″ – 30″ meets ANSI Z359.18-2017, ANSI A10.32-12, and CE-EN 795 standards.

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Steel Beam Anchors: Vertical/Fixed Anchors

These fall protection clamps provide a fixed beam clamp tie-off point for H-Beams or I-Beams, and can also be installed overhead or at foot level (with the approval of a Competent Person).

These fixed beam clamp tie-off points feature two paws, one that is stationary and one that can be adjusted to fit a range of beam sizes. Once the paws are positioned around the beam, you tighten down the locking nuts to create a secure anchor point that can safely be used as part of the personal fall arrest system.

These vertical beam clamps attach without tools and, because of their removable and reusable innovative design, can be used again time after time.

Our top-rated Vertical/Fixed Anchor Beam Anchor has an adjustable anchor clamp to custom fit a range of flange widths on your site. View it here.

These are the main 3 forms of steel beam anchors. When these anchors are combined with a secure anchorage point, full body harness, and approved connection point, the personal fall arrest system is a reliable form of fall protection.

03 Need Fall Protection Advice

Essential Elements of an Anchor System

The different steel beam anchors available on the market mean they come in a variety of designs. However, a few basic components are consistent across all types.

Versatility in Application: All these steel beam anchors, whether it’s the Cross Arm Strap, Beamers, or Vertical/Fixed Anchors, are designed to be adaptable for various settings. They can be installed on different types of beams, such as H-Beams or I-Beams, and are suitable for use either overhead or at foot level, contingent upon approval from a Competent Person.

Ease of Use and Portability: Each of these anchor types is designed for ease of installation and use. The Cross Arm Straps use a simple wrap-and-secure method, Beamers glide along the beam for mobility, and Vertical/Fixed Anchors offer straightforward adjustability. Additionally, their tool-free attachment and the fact that they are reusable make these anchors highly portable and convenient for moving between different project sites.

Compliance with Safety Standards: These steel beam anchors, including the cross-arm straps, Beamers, and Vertical/Fixed Anchors, meet critical safety standards. They adhere to ANSI Z359.18-2017, ANSI A10.32-12, CE-EN 795, or equivalent standards, ensuring that they provide reliable and safe anchorage points for personal fall arrest systems. This compliance underscores their reliability and suitability for professional use in ensuring worker safety.

Malta Dynamics: Your Overhead Fall Protection Expert

When using an overhead steel beam as an attachment point, fall protection gear and safety equipment are crucial for worker safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have comprehensive regulations for these jobs to ensure the highest possible safety level.

At Malta Dynamics, our wide range of fall protection gear meets OSHA and ANSI standards for safety. When you trust us for a commercial safety harness, PPE, a safety lanyard, or a fall arrest anchor system, you can expect reliable performance and compliance with government regulations.

Investing in fall protection systems and safety gear helps you support compliance, protect your workers, and safeguard your business. Ensure the safety of your workers while preserving the value of your business with Malta Dynamics’ fall protection equipment. Our products are designed for real-world applications, ensuring peace of mind and a commitment to maintaining the highest safety standards in the industry.

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Article reviewed on 01/08/2024 by:

Greg Brown

President of Malta Dynamics

Greg Brown has a diverse background, having worked in various industries such as utilities/communication, oilfield, and manufacturing. In 2018, he embarked on a mission to serve these industries by offering innovative safety products. Over the years, Greg has traveled extensively, visiting numerous sites and engaging with thousands of dedicated individuals to promote safety. Malta Dynamics takes a unique approach to safety, with a close-knit family of construction and manufacturing workers, providing Field Tested, Field Approved solutions to ensure the well-being of workers.