Understanding anchor selection – and why it matters

Can you relate to any of these scenarios?

Scenario One

You are asked by your client to design a roof access and fall protection system. Roof anchors are chosen for their flexibility, cost benefits and ease of installation. The plans are drawn up and building works are completed, and the systems that you have specified are installed. Months later you are contacted by the client only to be told that any routine work on the roof has not been possible because the incorrect anchors were selected and installed. Your client is threatening legal action and the whole system must be redesigned.

Scenario Two

As an installer of height safety equipment your client requests a quote for the recertification of their existing fall protection systems. After assessing the area and determining the application it becomes apparent that there are some anchors installed which are incorrect for their intended use. Explanations as to why the system design is flawed fall on deaf ears and your client either goes to another cheaper installer who is not suggesting redesign or else decides to leave the system as is, either choice being a highly unsatisfactory outcome with potentially serious consequences.

worker and business man fighting

Scenario Three

Contractors are up on the roof of your building about to conduct some basic maintenance work, perhaps facade maintenance. As a building owner or manager you have checked and can confidently state that there are anchors installed. However on inspection the contractor alerts you that the existing anchors cannot be used as they are not correct for the application. Unsure of the reason why, works on your building must stop and rectification and possible costly system redesign has to be carried out before it can be resumed.

Scenario Four

You are a contractor intending to perform window cleaning on a new customer's building. You feel safe and ready to carry out the work because you have been told by the building owner that there are anchors in place. But when you climb up to the roof you realise the incorrect anchors have been installed for the job so you are unable to continue. Frustration and tempers rise as you attempt to explain to the client why you cannot carry out the work that he requires.

How to choose the correct anchor for the job ...

Clarification of the definitions is a great place to start.

  • Fall prevention: Removes the risk of the worker falling by providing a barrier between them and the fall hazard.
  • Fall restraint: Restricts the movement of the worker in reaching the fall edge.
  • Fall arrest: Arrests the fall of the worker once it has occurred.
  • Rope access: A method of enabling work to be carried out on atriums, facades or exterior areas at height using a rope abseil system.
  • Static load: A constant load or force that is sustained with little to no drastic weight changes or movements such as when an operator is abseiling.
  • Dynamic load: A load that results when a sharp or sudden movement occurs, such as when a worker may unexpectedly fall and come to an abrupt stop. A dynamic load is a significantly higher load than a static load.

As fall arrest and rope access anchors are subjected to different types of loads they must be tested and rated accordingly. But how do you determine what needs to be in place, particularly if you are not in the industry?

Our video and whitepaper "Understanding anchor selection and why it matters" explain the various different anchors and what you need to be aware of so that you do not have to deal with any of the scenarios above. Keep these resources on hand to assist you when clarifying which equipment is required.


Installation of this type of equipment should always be carried out by a height safety specialist. Please contact Sayfa on 1300 301 755 or [email protected] and we can put you in touch with our Australia wide network of Sayfa accredited installers.

Need help with your roof access and fall protection system designs? Contact the team at Sayfa on 1300 301 755 or [email protected].

Further information on which Sayfa anchors are suitable for what applications, can be found by reading  ‘Choosing the right anchor'.

Are you protecting your workers to the best of your ability? Why not take a Height Safety Risk Calculator and see.