Workforce Safety: a Solution to Prevent Falls Tested by 3M™ Using Canam Steel Deck
Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury and death in the construction industry? Every year, more than 40,000 Canadian workers get injured because of fall-related accidents. It’s no wonder fall arrest systems are required whenever workers are at risk of falling 6 feet or more from a working-walking surface.
Since many commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings both fall under this category and have steel deck roofs, 3M™ conducted a series of tests that would assess the performance of their DBI-SALA®RoofSafe Anchor System on Canam’s steel deck. Ultimately, the results of these tests exceeded everyone’s expectations. Read on for all the details.
The DBI-SALA® RoofSafe Anchor System is a work restraint and fall arrest system that’s suitable for commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings with a low sloped roof (4:12). With a span of up to 15 m (50 ft) between anchors and a cable through the end and intermediate anchors, it functions as a continuous horizontal lifeline providing uninterrupted access to the entire roof. The anchor can also be installed as a single-point multi-directional anchor.
Thanks to its two-way design, the 3M™ DBI-SALA® RoofSafe Anchor addresses a wide range of needs. However, it’s important to note that this product isn’t intended for window washing, rigging, or suspended access applications: it is a force management anchor that tips over to keep the moment loads to the lowest extent to the roof structure.
1 Working-walking surfaces are defined by OSHA as any horizontal or vertical surface on or through which an employee walks, works, or gains access to a work area or workplace location.
Equipped with an innovative energy absorber known as SpiraTech Force Management Technology, the anchor’s interior coil deploys (uncoils) in the event of a fall or whenever a load of <3 kN (675 lb) is applied. While the fall is in process, the coil deploys to absorb the energy generated by the fall. It eventually stops the fall when the kinetic energy created due to the fall is balanced out by the opening of the coil. This situation is called “arresting the fall” or a “fall arrest.”
The bottom line is that the system ensures the structure receives the smallest load possible as the spring absorbs most of the energy. Low fall arrest loads are a clear benefit for building owners because it keeps the material cost and installation low: they use just four attachment toggle bolts from the top of the base plate of the anchor to the deck, as opposed to requiring a structural attachment under the roof (e.g., H frame), as is the case with a rigid structural anchor.
Simulating maximum dead load using bags of sand on a Canam steel deck
Photo credit: 3M™
However, one should be aware that these are tip-over deployable force management anchors. Once they are tipped over or deployed, they become unusable. In most situations, the replacement of the SpiraTech module into the baseplate by removing the tipped or deployed anchor module is the only required action. It should be noted, however, that whenever the force management anchor post is subject to a fall event, the structure should be inspected to make sure that there is no damage. This type of inspection is no different compared to the structural anchor inspection, which follows the same procedure.
Organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) only provide design standards for engineers with respect to the Design of Active Fall Arrest Systems. For that reason, 3M™ chose Magenta ACR [M] 002:2009 and EN795 standards, which propose roof anchor testing requirements and methods to determine how they perform in real-life situations. This was at the core of the partnership between 3M™ and Canam, who seized the opportunity to provide their clients with valuable advice based on verifiable data. 3M™ conducted several dynamic drop tests and static pull tests on Canam’s thinnest steel deck, the 22-gauge B deck. All results can be found in this summary report.
3M™ also tested the anchor system on various layers of material—bare steel deck, deck with 30 cm (12 in) insulation and overboard, 1.5 mm (0.06 in) EPDM membrane, and 4-ply bitumen with gravel protection—all of which remained intact. As this fall arrest system allows workers to move around freely, 3M™ decided to simulate several fall scenarios, conducting tests parallel and perpendicular to the deck ribs as well as at a 45° angle.
Upon Canam’s request, 3M™ even took their tests beyond regular standards by simulating maximum dead load using bags of sand. This proved that 3M™ DBI-SALA® RoofSafe Anchors wouldn’t affect the steel deck upon deployment, even when the latter is fully loaded. All these testing scenarios successfully held the dynamic and static loads specified and remained attached to the roof structure.
The 3M™ DBI-SALA® RoofSafe Anchor System provides numerous advantages for building owners, engineers, and architects.
Thanks to its cutting-edge coil design, this product not only saves lives but also reduces the loads that a roof must handle during a fall, offering a significant advantage for those looking for a fall arrest solution compatible with steel components. What’s more, it also avoids project delays and reduces costs, two continuously important goals in the construction industry.
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