One really interesting insight from vertical connect last week had to do with a cross-disciplinary overview of anchor point selection.
For years every time the topic of anchor points in tree care came up, there was a small, niggling voice in the back of my head pointing out that most other industries work on rated anchor points – as opposed to us –, and that residual worry that if health and safety focus on fact all too hard we conceivably might find ourselves shut down. Add to that the fact that, again, as opposed to most other @height disciplines, we do not work with a permanent back-up using sharp (power)tools and things get really interesting.
So I was really fascinated by the talks on Saturday morning at vertical connect, where four representatives from different professions, geo tech, intervention, arborist and industrial rope access, described the challenges they fact and solutions they have identified when selecting tie-in points.
Guess what? It turns out that every single person ended up talking about how regularly operators will find themselves in situations in which they are having to make a call on whether a structure or element is safe to tie into and how you are using your judgement, common sense and experience to assess this. Okaaaay, that is really quite a long way from always climbing on rated points. It is logical, you say? This was to be expected, you say? Of course, but I found it really helpful to have it spelt out to me and having it in the open, because once that is the case we can start to have meaningful discussion on procedural safe guards and tools to aid consistently good anchor point selection, on an intuitive level.
And no, we are by no means the odd ones out, far from it, but rather another group of professionals working at height looking to answers to these questions. And without a doubt we need those answers, pronto. Poor anchor point selection and resulting failure remain a very worrying cluster of incidents to my mind. The good news is, this is not rocket science to address, all it takes is an adapted mind-set, an understanding of the structure that is being worked on, a basic understanding of the forces involved and some communication skills and I would expect many of these incidents to be nipped at the bud.