High risk

02 December 2021

This article from the BSIF will help you understand best practice for those designing, installing, maintaining and inspecting anchor devices and systems.

OVER THE last five years, falls from height have accounted for 26% of all fatal accident injuries (average of 37 fatal injuries per year).

Personal fall protection equipment is designed to ensure that people working at height are properly protected, and anchor systems are a critical component of PFPE.

This guide has been put together by members of the BSIF to help you understand best practice for those designing, installing, maintaining and inspecting anchor devices and systems

What’s the problem?

Falls from height continue to be one of the main causes of occupational fatalities and major injuries.

This is why it is important to follow legislation such as the Work at Height Regulations to ensure work can be carried out safely and that fall protection equipment is installed and maintained in line with the latest standards and best practice guidelines.

Personal fall protection systems (PFPS) are an essential part of ensuring people can work safely at height. Anchor systems are a critical component of these systems, which is why it is important to understand how and why they should be designed, installed, used, maintained and inspected properly by competent individuals.

BS 7883: An overview

Originally introduced in 1997 and later amended in 2005, BS EN 7883 provided recommendations and best practice guidance for anchor devices conforming to BS EN 795.

Fall protection technology has advanced considerably since 2005. This resulted in the need for the recent revision to BS 7883 which has been developed by a specialist BSI committee consisting of experts from the fall protection industry and leading professional bodies.

BS 7883: 2019 provides comprehensive best practice guidance for those designing, installing, maintaining and inspecting anchorage devices used for personal fall protection, as well as for other interested parties. These include architects and structural engineers who are responsible for the design of safe access and egress at height.

It should be noted that this standard only applies to anchor systems that are being used for direct attachment of personal fall protection systems for use in the workplace and are designed to complement BS 8610,
BS EN 795 and PD CEN/TS 16415.

The following is an overview for BSIF members and highlights important areas of the standards as well as new inclusions. Please refer to the full version of BS 7883 for comprehensive information on the requirements and recommendations of the updated standard.

BS 7883: Core elements

This long-awaited update to the standard is split into four sections covering general information includingclarification of terms and definitions and new anchor type categories; system design; installation and inspection.

Some key elements of the new standard include:

  • The introduction of the role of the System Designer

  • Comprehensive details of documentation requirements including System Design Specification; System

    Technical File; Examination Scheme for Inspection, and Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Manual

  • Positioning and installation information for rope access, including deviations and edge management

  • Design calculation examples

  • Examples of calculations for proof test loads and test methods

  • Calculating loadings on the structure

  • Advice on reverse engineering design checks of hidden elements of pre-existing anchor systems

  • Inspection of anchor devices and anchor systems to earlier versions of BS 7883

    The overall aim of the standard is to ensure that people working at height are protected sufficiently when using anchor systems.

New product categories

Previous versions of the revised standard were produced when anchor devices were mainly just eyebolts. The latest revision, BS 7883:2019 takes into account the advances within fall protection technology and now includes guidance across 5 types of common anchor systems.

TYPE A:    Permanently fixed anchor system that incorporates one or more structural anchor such as an eyebolt

TYPE B:    A removable and transportable anchor that does not incorporate a structural anchor so is not fixed to a structure

TYPE C:    A structurally anchored anchorage system featuring a flexible anchor line such as a wire rope, fibre rope or webbing

TYPE D:   A structurally anchored anchorage system incorporating a tube or rigid rail anchor line

TYPE E:   Anchor device which relies solely on mass and friction between itself and the load-bearing surface

System design

The 2019 revision introduces the role of the system designer who has the overall responsibility for the design of the personal fall protection system including certification and handover documents.

The overall design should be carried out in consultation with the duty holder and other interested parties including users and must consider what tasks are to be carried out; frequency of work tasks; number and competency of users; type and location of the workplace and the ongoing requirement for inspection; testing; repair and maintenance.

Best practice guidance is also provided on the more technical design factors such as identification of the correct fall protection application (fall arrest, rope access or work positioning/fall restraint); different structural materials and limitations; structural load calculations and proof test loads.

It is also important to note that if you are an installer and you decide what personal fall protection system should be used and where to install it, you become the system designer and must take on the responsibility of that role.


Installation contains key areas installers need to consider when installing an anchor system. Any installation must be carried out following the system design specification and information supplied by the manufacturer.

It is recommended that installations of type A, C and D anchors are carried out by the manufacturer or approved installers as these require correct fixing to a suitable structure.

BS 7883:2019 enforces the importance of detailed fall protection documentation with the introduction of therequirement of comprehensive records and information including system specification, system technical file, examination scheme for inspection and O&M (operations and maintenance) manual.

Detailed documentation

The System Technical File is to be produced by the system designer and passed on to the duty holder for the life of the system. This file should be made available to anyone carrying out future inspection and maintenance of the anchorage system.

The file should contain records of the system design and layout, design calculations, structural fixing details,information on hidden elements and inspection and test requirements. A record of hidden elements is a critical inclusion in the system technical file as these can be overlooked during the inspection. A record of all hidden elements and any material obscuring them should be kept in the system technical file along with installation photographs.


Anchor systems are a critical part of personal fall protection equipment. Users of the system must be confident that the device will perform as intended, especially in the event of a fall.

This revised standard has extended inspection requirements to cover inspection prior to use, periodic, interim and supplementary inspections. If information on hidden elements is not present in the system technical file, the inspector should carry out reverse-engineering design checks to confirm the installation is safe to use.

Previous versions of the standard left the pass or fail result criteria open to some interpretation. The latest version of the British Standard has addressed this and introduced 4 clear and concise category results as follows:

  • PASS: Satisfies all relevant recommendations. This allows the equipment to remain in use and labelled as remaining in service.
  • CONDITIONAL PASS: The anchorage system satisfies the recommendations of BS 7883:2019, a previous standard or code of practice and does not present any immediate safety concern so it should be labelled as remaining in service. However, an inspection report should be presented to the duty holder with recommendations on remedial work required to improve the anchor device within an appropriate completion timescale.
  • CONDITIONAL FAIL: This represents an immediate safety concern and requires the anchor system and/or PFPE to be taken out of service and labelled accordingly or decommissioned to prevent use. Inthese cases, the safety concern can be rectified so the duty holder should be presented with a detailed inspection report including remedial works that must be carried out before the anchor system is re-inspected and returned to service.

This result also applies to systems that may have satisfied a previous standard or code of practice but do not conform to all current recommendations.

  • FAIL: As the result suggest, this represents an immediate safety concern that the anchor system or device can not be repaired or improved so it should be taken out of service and labelled with “Do Not Use” to avoid any uncertainty. Where possible, the system should be decommissioned to prevent potential use. Permission to physically remove an anchor system or device should be sought from the duty holder.


The latest revision of BS 7883:2019 provides a clear and comprehensive structure to best practice recommendations for those responsible for the design, installation, maintenance, inspection and certification of anchorage systems and devices used for personal fall protection.

Whether you are a manufacturer, distributor, safety professional or service provider, everyone has a duty to ensure the safety of others and should follow the recommendations set out in this updated version of the British Standard.

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