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Working With Leading or Sharp Edges

Working With Leading or Sharp Edges
Guy Pearce - Friday, July 14, 2017

Leading edge and sharp edge work poses a series of unique risks for persons working at height. Many lifelines or fall arrest devices available do not necessarily address these increased risks and expose the users to potentially catastrophic consequences.

A leading edge is found for example, when laying decking or roof sheets where the fall arrest lanyard may be anchored at or near foot level and the user has the potential to fall over an edge. Whereas a sharp edge is an edge that is not rounded or is abrasive and has the potential to cut a lifeline in the case of a fall.

In many cases it is not practical to protect sharp edges or impossible to raise the height of the anchor point and industry recognized that significant changes needed to be made to existing products to address these risks.

While the primary risk of sharp edge work is the chance of severing the lifeline, working at a leading edge poses its own set of unique difficulties and subsequent risks.

When working on decks or roofs anchoring is likely to be at foot level. The closer the anchor point to the leading edge the greater the likelihood that the user will fall over the edge. For example if the anchor is 3 metres from the edge the free fall distance will be almost 2 meters. When working with the lanyard anchored directly at your feet free fall may be up to 4 metres depending on the lanyard length.

Not only is the user exposed to increased fall distance and forces there is also an increased potential for swing hazards.


With the lanyard anchored directly at your feet free fall may be up to 4 metres depending on the lanyard length

When the anchor is 3 metres from the edge the free fall distance will be almost 2 meters

In many cases it is not practical to protect sharp edges or impossible to raise the height of the anchor point and industry recognized that significant changes needed to be made to existing products to address these risks.

Through their testing and analysis, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) confirmed that products not specifically designed for foot level tie-off will generate forces far exceeding accepted safety parameters in the event of a fall. In 2012 ANSI introduced a new standard ANSI Z359.14 that has become a base level for testing SRL’s used for leading edge work.

Height Dynamics offers a range of products that have been tested to ANSI and EN standards for sharp or leading edge work. Please click through to view some of these products on our web site or contact our sales team for further information.

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