Keeping Our Boatswain Chair Inspectors SAFE!

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) has issued new regulations regarding “Walking and Working Surfaces, and Fall Protection Systems” that have changed the requirements and responsibilities for many building owners. Building owners are impacted if they employ individuals or service providers that utilize rope descent systems that are typically called boatswain chairs and most often used by window washing contractors. OSHA issued the new regulations as part of its efforts to decrease the number of falling deaths and increase worker safety. 

Without completing the necessary requirements, building owners will not be permitted to use anchor points on their buildings. Starting on November 20, 2017, buildings owners must:

·         Have their anchor points certified and tested every ten (10) years by a “qualified person”

·         Have a “qualified person” conduct annual inspection.

·         Provide written documentation to service providers that all anchor points have been certified, inspected, and tested as detailed in OSHA Regulations (Standards-29 CFR) sections 1910.27 and 1910.66

OSHA states that a state licensed professional engineer is best for meeting the definition of a “qualified person” that is required to test, certify, and inspect the anchor points. A professional engineer would be able to determine if the anchor points can support 5000 lbs. for each individual attached, if an adequate number of anchor points exist to use accepted safe rigging practices, and if the anchor points meet the applicable code requirements. Additionally, a professional engineer can certify the anchor points by conducting an in-depth study of materials, complete performance calculations, and review installation methods as required once every 10 years by the new regulations.  A visual inspection can be conducted by a professional engineer to fulfill the annual inspection requirement.

Also beginning on November 20, 2017, building owners will also be responsible for supplying written documentation to all service providers that anchor points have been tested, certify, and inspected properly before work begins. Service providers, meanwhile, will be responsible for providing assurances that necessary formal training, inspection of portable equipment, and emergency procedures are completed.

It is important that building owners impacted by these new regulations are aware of their changing responsibilities and take the necessary steps before November 20, 2017. This will prevent serious liability issue for all parties involve and ensure worker safety.

More information can be found at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/standards.html