OSHA 1910.27 Update

New OHSA regulations implemented in January 2017 now mandate that building owners follow stricter guidelines in regards to workers using rope descent systems (RDS) on their property…



Before any rope descent system is used, the building owner must inform the employer, in writing that the building owner has identified, tested, certified, and maintained each anchorage so it is capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds (268 kg), in any direction, for each employee attached. The information must be based on an annual inspection by a qualified person and certification of each anchorage by a qualified person, as necessary, and at least every 10 years.

This new language forces buildings to annually test and certify any installed anchor or roof component that will act as a “tie-off” for window cleaners repelling from their building.  This will at minimum force building owners to hire qualified individuals to test and certify their anchors every year.   However, there may be many buildings that will need to design and install a completely new anchor system if their current system is inadequate. This could become very cost prohibitive for the building owner.

Fortunately, OSHA’s definition of RDS allows for an important exception:


The final rule defines RDS as a suspension system that allows a worker to descend in a controlled manner and, as needed, stop at any point during the descent to perform work. An RDS usually consists of a roof anchorage, support rope, descent device, carabiners or shackles, and chair (seatboard). An RDS also is called controlled descent equipment or apparatus, but it does not include industrial rope access systems.

As stated, building owners who hire companies using Industrial Rope Access Systems (IRAS) are not bound to these strict certification requirements.  Why is this exception given?  In short, it is because IRAS are considered to be a much more innovative and safe way to access a building’s windows and facade.  IRAS workers are also, generally, beholden to a secondary industry safety organization such as SPRAT or IRATA.  Hiring qualified IRAS companies may become a better alternative to the new testing/certification requirements.

Contact Us to learn how Crystal Clean’s Rope Access services can help comply with this OSHA Update

Nov 20 2017 Enforcement Guidelines

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