Abseil Anchors and Rails
Abseil track provides a continuous rolling anchor for specialist abseil access to the perimeter of a structure – negating the requirement for users to change anchors in order to move horizontally around the structure’s elevation.
It is typically used on building’s with glazed elevations between 6-15 stories high – but has many other applications where specialist abseil access is required.
The abseil track projects from the building elevation by typically around 1m. The cantilever supporting arms for the track and connection to the structure must be verified by structural calculations along with the structure its self for the implied load. The implied load will vary according to the number of permitted users. This is typically limited to 2 per elevation which equates to a load of 15kN. (BS7985 States that the maximum permissible impact on the user should be 6kN the standard has used a factor of safety of 2.5, to obtain the 15kN requirement therefore there is no requirement for designers to add a further factor of safety to the load requirement)
Abseil Anchors provide a single point abseil anchor integral with a post at roof level or connection to the horizontal structure of the building, frequently as a part of a system of multiple abseil anchors to provide specialist abseil access to a part of the structure.
They are typically used on buildings 6-15 stories high but have many other applications were specialist abseil access is required.
The posts and fixing connection to the structure must be verified by structural calculations along with the structure itself for the implied load. The implied load will vary according to the number of permitted users. This is typically load 15kN applied in the intended direction of the abseil rope, all directional possibilities should be considered in the design and the worst case applied. (BS7985 States that the maximum permissible impact on the user should be 6kN the standard has used a factor of safety of 2.5, to obtain the 15kN requirement therefore there is no requirement for designers to add a further factor of safety to the load requirement)
Eye bolts provide a single point anchorage typically direct to a concrete or masonry/stone façade or to a solid roof/ floor structure to accommodate specialist abseil access.
For this purpose, they are typically used in building 6-15 stories high, however they have a range of uses such as ensuring safe cleaning of windows and ledges that can be applied to low rise buildings and within industry.
The eyebolts should be installed, and proof tested to 15kN pull out in accordance with BS8610 and the manufacturer’s recommendations. However, the structure they are affixed to should be verified for the applied loads typically 15kN per fix.
Standards & Guidance:
Organisation and use should be BS 7985:2013 or IRATA guidelines.
Anchors should be in accordance with EN795:2012 or BS8610:2017
Connectors in accordance with EN362
There is no dedicated BS or EN standard for Abseil track. The requirements of the above should be met and the design verified by structural calculation.
Levels of safety:
Abseil track anchors and eyebolts are designed strictly for the sole use of specialist access providers. The work must be properly planned with site/ task specific risk assessments and method statements.
The anchorage points must be capable of safely carrying the stated maximum load the track is designed for.
The users inclusive of tools and equipment must not exceed the design load
The full design considerations will vary according to each site and the proposed task the track is intended to provide specialist access for however in broad terms the following must be considered:
- Suitability of the structure affixed to carry the implied loads
- Structural strength of the fix and arms carrying the track or post anchor – along with the design deflection especially if the arms pass through brittle cladding materials.
- Loads applies to any part of the structure the rope may pass over such as parapets
- Loads implied to cladding etc due to the assailers traveling over them in the course of their work.
- Layout of the track or anchor points
- Safe access at the position at which the user affixes there PPE to the track
- Sharp edges – the rope should not pass over or risk passing over any edges unless specifically identified and a rope protector used.
- Fragile structures and roof lights
- The number of users and the weight of the users including equipment and tools
- The BS 7985 15kN load has been derived from the assumption that each of the 2 users weighs no more than 100kg inclusive of tools and equipment.
- If more than 1 user can be on any span of track simultaneously the design load should be 15kN plus a further 1kN for each additional user within the span.
Note: The 15kN load is based upon the fact that it is possible for 2 users to fall simultaneously – even though it is unlikely. The likelihood of 3 or more users all falling simultaneously is statistically tending toward 0 > for this reason only the mass of additional users is taken into account of 100kg (approx. 1kN) as opposed to the full load experienced to halt a fall of 6kN.
The minimum load of 15kN for 2 users is to account for 1 user plus 1 rescuer
Where anchors or eye bolts are used 2 anchors should be affixed to at any time
Abseil provisions must only be used by suitably qualified Industrial Rope Access operatives. They must be familiar with the equipment and fully trained prior to use.
They must check the labelling of the rail matches their method statement and risk assessment and that full inspections and certifications are in date.
The information should include:
- Maximum user weights
- Date of last inspection, and next inspection due. Never use an abseil track that is not in date for inspection.
- Date of original installation and relevant standard complied to ( e.g.: EN795)
- CE marks where applicable
Details of the original installation, design ethos and structural fixings should be contained within the operations and maintenance manual for the building, if this is not made available by the client the original installation company should be contacted to provide a copy.
- Abseil tracks come under the LOLER regulations need to be inspected at a minimum 6 monthly intervals.
- They must be inspected by a competent person
- The inspection should confirm:
- All visible fixings are securely fastened and free of corrosion.
- The track is damage and corrosion free
- Proof testing of the track and associated traveling devices is undertaken in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and the maximum track load capacity stated in the operations and maintenance manual and the labelling.