Are your eyebolts installed correctly?

Eyebolts and harness lines are the perfect solution on buildings where access is required for regular maintenance work.

Ideal for a single worker, eyebolts (or i-bolts) reduce the risk of a fall when carrying out work such as window cleaning, facade maintenance or other maintenance operations from an ‘open window’ position, offering effective fall arrest protection.

When used safely, eyebolts can be of great benefit, but we see far too many improperly installed systems which could put lives at risk.


How to properly install eyebolts

Eyebolts should always be positioned in a way that the worker can attach their lanyard and safety harness before they are in an area of risk, ensuring protection in the event of a slip.

In the above picture, the eyebolts have been incorrectly positioned in a way that would hamper their use. This might be obvious to someone with a proper understanding of eyebolts but might not stand out for someone who has little experience with them. Either way, it will make any work carried out less efficient or as a worst case scenario put the worker at risk.

It is also vital that eyebolts are installed in a place that can withstand any force applied. If they are installed in places which are not designed to bear weight, such as bonded brickwork, they can fail.

The relevant code, BS 7883: 2005 Section 8, is very clear on the matter and states that eyebolts fitted into traditional bonded brickwork should only be fitted into load-bearing solid masonry.

The standard states:

8.1.3 Wherever anchor devices are to be used it is essential to ensure that the structure has sufficient strength and stability to support the loads that could be applied to the anchor device in the event of a fall being arrested.  This is especially important in the case of brickwork or combined brickwork/blockwork.

8.1.4 Anchor devices should only be fixed in, or attached to, load-bearing structural members if the strength of these structural members has been assessed and they have been found to be strong enough to support the load that could be applied to the anchor device in the case of a fall being arrested.  Anchor devices should not be fixed in non-load-bearing infill panels without specialist advice being first obtained.

Most people with and understanding of construction will know what load-bearing means, and how it applies to eyebolts, but too often we see this information not being put into practice, or even wilfully ignored.

These installations are at best negligent or at worse criminal, as they could lead to a fatal incident or ruined lives. If you are concerned that eyebolts on your building are unsafe and might be a risk, stop using them immediately and employ a qualified recertification company.

Harcon offers fall arrest inspection as well as providing a wide range of fall arrest equipment, including eyebolts. For more information call 0161 777 4230 or email us.

How to Protect Your Business Structure from Lightning

If you live or work in an area where a lot of storms happen, enough so that lightning strikes are something to worry about, you may want to look into a few different ways to protect your business structure or your house from a lightning strike.

The problem with lightning is that it can come very quickly, and you never really know where it is going to hit.

Having something in place to keep anything from happening will ensure that your structure stays standing for years to come.

One of the most common implementations that you can make to protect your building is to get a lightning protection system, better known as a lightning rod.

These are usually set up near the building in order to attract the lightning strike and then neutralize it before it travels back into the ground.

By having it travel into the ground, essentially it will dissipate and not be of any danger to the building or surrounding trees at all.

You can get an older style lightning rod put in place, or something that is a bit more modern instead.

The more modern models are basically made up of a series of small copper and aluminium spikes which are now called air terminals.

These air terminals are mounted on the highest points of a house or a business building, usually at the top of the roof, a chimney if it exists, and other high points on dormers.

One building can have as many as ten or more, depending on its size and the shape of it.

Not to mention, if there are many high points, you can fit many on the roof.

By setting up a lightning protection system at your building you can save yourself from a lot of damage later on.

When lightning strikes a building or a tree, sometimes a fire can easily break out due to the sparks created.

If you have something to protect the building in place, you can actually send the current into the ground safely, and out of the way of everything that could possibly catch fire.

It will end up saving you a lot of time and money down the line.

Many places of business should actually have some sort of protection system in place, that way they can continuously protect their structures in the case of a major storm breaking out.

It is better to be well prepared than have something happen.

How Does a Lightning Protection System Work?

There is an old axiom, which states that ‘lightning never strikes the same place twice’.

Where this expression comes from is hard to determine, although it is quite safe to state that it is wrong.

Why is it wrong?

Ask the Blackpool Tower.

Home of the iconic Tower Ballroom this 19th century structure has been hit more than once. The most significant strike happened as recently as July 2016.

So if such iconic buildings can be struck, repeatedly as it turns out why don’t we hear more about it in the news?

The simple response is that they have well designed and maintained lightning protection systems.

In very simple terms a lightning conductor (or rod) is often a copper based alloy mounted at the highest point of a structure and then connected to a grounding point via heavy-duty conductor cables. While this passive approach to lightning protection provides an effective means of preventing excess damage to a structure, the risk of damage to electrical and electronic devices can remain a threat.

Although buildings with a steel frame do seem to fare better during a lightning strike, the risk of fire still remains. This is because loft spaces and wall insulation can begin to burn and it is not until there is a sufficient build up of heat that a fire alarm will sound. The main reason that steel framed buildings fare slightly better that those without is because the steels act as conductors to the ground.

Having a steel frame will not guarantee safety though, as pointed out above the risk of fire remains. To this end, it is always going to be good practice to install some form of lightning protection system:

Passive systems are relatively inexpensive to install and with regular inspect/maintenance can easily last the life of the building they are installed on.

A financial benefit of a passive system is there is little to wrong, the lightning conductor itself is a sturdy unit as you can imagine. The grounding points are equally robust so it is the conductor cables that require the closest inspection. The conductor cables need to be of low impedance to work efficiently and reduce the risk of damage to electronic devices.

Some structures are fitted with an external wire mesh, or Faraday cage which, can further reduce the risk of harm to not only the structure of the building but also the contents and occupants. The Faraday cage works by distributing the electrical charge around the exterior of the cage, so the massive charge from the lightning leaves the interior of the ‘cage’ unharmed.

The principal of the Faraday cage was adapted by Dr Austin Richards to create a Faraday suit. From this point he used a Tesla coil to create a show called Dr Megavolt.