The dangers of wrongly installed eyebolts

On buildings where access is regularly required using a harness, installing eyebolts such as the Kee i-Bolt range to attach a harness line to is worth considering to make work safer and more efficient.

Safety eyebolts are ideal for single working persons, reducing the risk of a fall whilst carrying out external window cleaning and general maintenance. Eyebolts offer effective fall arrest protection for those carrying out high level window, façade cleaning or other building maintenance operations from an ‘open window’ position.

Whilst eyebolts can be hugely beneficial and very safe when used properly, we come across too many systems which have been improperly installed, putting lives at risk should they be used.

Eyebolts should be positioned so that the operative can attach their lanyard and safety harness before being at risk, ensuring safe access and personal protection in the event of an accidental slip or fall.

The image above is a perfect example of an incorrect and possibly dangerous eyebolt installation. The manager responsible for this building said they had been assured the system had passed a 6kN pull test, and assumed this meant it was safe to use. This is wrong, and could have ended very badly had it not been discovered.

Many people have a fundamental misunderstanding of how eyebolts function, and what forces the base structure must be capable of withstanding.

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

The two relevant sections are below:

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.

Anyone with basic construction experience should know what ‘load-bearing’ means, and should be able to understand this, but we see too many cases where this knowledge is missing or – more worryingly – being intentionally ignored.

These installations are at best negligent and at worst, dangerous, and could lead to a fatal incident. This diagram from BS 7883 shows an example of a correctly installed anchor device for load bearing solid masonry, used in conjunction with resin bonded structural anchor.

Safesite can carry out a full site inspection to ensure all your systems and solutions are safe to use. You can also watch the video below to see how our Kee i-Bolt range should be used. For more information, call us on 01293 529977 or use our online contact form.

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