Stanchion Safety (January 2006)
When 200 pounds of force is applied to the top of a 30-inch stanchion, as much as 3 tons of pull can be exerted on the stanchion’s base. That is more than enough to rip poorly mounted bolts up through the deck. Make sure all stanchion bases have oversized metal backing plates (not just shoulder washers), and check all the bases periodically for distortion. If the base socket holds the stanchions in place with set screws, replace them with bolts that pass through the stanchion wall.
When a lifeline fails, the cause is usually corrosion. Although coated wire is popular for lifelines, the plastic that covers the wire can hide corrosion. That is why 1×19 stainless-steel rigging wire is superior. If you’re still using coated wire, examine it carefully for the telltale brown stains that cast doubt on its reliability. Gate hardware is also susceptible to failure. If you eliminate it, your lifelines will be strengthened; the down side is that it may be harder to get on board.
Lifelines must never become slack. If the turnbuckles have lock nuts, secure them with Loctite and replace the cotter pins. Spread open the ends of the pins and then cover them with tape.