In this article we discuss what a mansafe system is and when it is needed; we also go over some of the types of mansafe systems currently available on the market, what standards you need to be aware of, as well as how often such systems need to be inspected in order to ensure safety at all times.
What is a mansafe system?
The term ‘mansafe system’ usually refers to safety equipment that requires users to attach to a lifeline or an anchor while they are working at height. This is done through the use of protective personal equipment (PPE) such as a harness and lanyard.
A mansafe system will allow users to work safely on roofs or gain access above large structures such as factory machinery. Mansafe structures can be installed horizontally or vertically depending on the work at height needs.
Mansafe systems can be designed to accommodate fall arrest or fall restraint.
- If designed for fall restraint, the system needs to be installed at least 2m away from the fall hazard to avoid the possibility of a fall in the first place.
- When designed for fall arrest, the system gives users more freedom of movement allowing them to get close to the roof edge for example, but it does not prevent the user from potentially falling. However, it will protect them during the fall, preventing the user from falling to the ground.
Examples of mansafe systems
KeeLine safety lifeline. This is a fixed wire structure that is installed alongside a fall hazard. Users connect to the cable via a unique traveller while being attached to a lanyard and a harness. KeeLine can be configured to allow for up to 3 users at the same time. In the event of a fall, the shock absorbers, intermediate brackets and support posts deploy and deform, reducing the load impact to the building’s structure to below 10Kn.
Kee Track rigid rail overhead system. This is designed for short fall arrest distances and reduces the chance of worker injury and damage to sensitive equipment. Kee Track also eliminates the pendulum effect that can tug at other workers on the system and cause further damage or injury.
Weightanka freestanding man anchor. This is a temporary mobile anchor system designed for use on roofs where there are no permanent guardrails or other anchor devices. Weightanka can be used as a singular unit or as a multi-unit structure to create a non-permanent lifeline ecosystem.
Davit Arms. This is a versatile overhead rooftop access solution that can be designed as a harness anchorage device, lifting device or rope access aid. A typical system is formed of a fixed base and upright with a rotating head. A series of sockets can be provided allowing the davit arm to be moved from position to position.
What is the difference between a freestanding and a fixed mansafe system?
Freestanding systems are used in temporary situations (for example for short term projects or to aid with the installation of a permanent safety solution) and they usually comprise of modular elements that are easy to dismantle and move around. These structures do not require fixing to the roof membrane.
A fixed system on the other hand is installed for permanent use and it is usually fixed to the structure of the roof.
Choosing a permanent or temporary mansafe system depends on the nature of the work at height, the roof layout and the duration of the project.
Do I need a mansafe system?
If you work from height, then you do need a safety system. Whereas this is a collective protection system or a mansafe one, this depends on your specific requirements as well as the roof layout. According to the hierarchy of control, collective systems (such as guardrails and barriers) should be prioritised where possible. If the nature of the work does not allow for collective solutions, then lifelines and other similar systems should be taken into consideration.
Inspection and testing
Making sure that safety systems remain fit for purpose and compliant is important. Safe access equipment needs to be recertified every 12 months, while other types of equipment such as PPE for example need to be inspected every 6 months. According to Regulation 119, which sets down the requirements for the inspection of work at height equipment, how often inspections take place should be determined by a competent person. A competent person will take into account such factors as the type of equipment, how and where the system is used and the likelihood of deterioration. Talk to our team about inspection and recertification
One of the regulations that focuses on anchor devices (permanent or temporary) is BS 7883, which includes guidelines around the design, installation, and especially maintenance of such systems. The standard was updated in 2019 to include details on five types of anchor systems as well as directions on inspection and recertification. Read our guide on BS 7883 here
Other regulations relevant to mansafe systems are:
- BS EN 795:2012 – This standard specifies requirements for single-user anchor devices which are intended to be removable from the structure (non-permanent).
- PD CEN/TS 16415:2013 – This specification focuses on anchor devices intended for use by more than one person simultaneously.
What kind of work at height may require mansafe systems?
Mansafe systems are usually used for maintenance, cleaning, repairs or inspection purposes and they are usually installed on roofs, although they are also suitable for other areas.
Typical work at height that may require the installation of a mansafe system is:
- Gutter maintenance
- Roof inspection and maintenance
- Solar panel maintenance and repairs
- AC unit maintenance and repairs
- Access to other types of machinery or silos (for routine maintenance)
Typical buildings that might require the installation of such system are:
- See our Stirlingshire Schools case study
- Expo centres or stadiums. See our Expocentre case study
- Residential buildings. See our Flatted Development case study
- Factories and other manufacturing units. See our Collace Quarry case study
- See our Bison case study