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.