Man on the rope
Under Polish law, there are no regulations concerning electric winches designed for lifting people. Many of our readers may disagree, having in mind, for instance, suspended platforms where people can stay. Unfortunately, the truth is much more complicated. To clarify the situation, we can make use of the English language, which will help us distinguish between two different concepts. The Polish language, although extremely rich, unfortunately does not distinguish between two critically important notions in naming.
If a winch is marked "Manriding" in the documentation and on its nameplate, it means that it is designed for lifting people directly. By direct human lifting, we refer to a person being attached by means of, for example, a harness directly to the hook or rope of the winch. However, even there we find some limitations, which we will describe later in this article.
This is a winch designed for lifting people situated on a special structure. These are machines used for lifting people, e.g. on suspended platforms. In such a case, platform is the structure. Another example would be winches on tripods used for lifting people in sewage manholes, which have the user seated on a special chair.
Even if the winch is adapted for "Manrinding", it is certified (DNV) for lifting people only under strictly defined conditions. There are man-lifting units in our range. However, they are certified exclusively for subsea work and nothing else.
So, as you can see above, a winch for "lifting people" can mean two completely different things, which leads to a lot of misunderstandings.
Both of the above-mentioned winch types have the same range of safety features. In the case of winches designated for lifting people, the winch must be fitted with two brakes, limit switches and a rope with a safety factor of at least x8. In comparison, a winch designed for lifting cargo requires just one brake and a safety wire with a safety factor of x3.5.
Our customers ask us quite a logical question. Wouldn't it be possible to build a winch like the ones for carrying cargo but with the safety features of those designated for lifting people and, in effect, have a machine capable of carrying human beings?
Of course, technically, there is no problem with this. However, the necessary certificate and the costs involved stand in the way. These costs are many times higher than the price of the winch itself, and unfortunately, it is not possible to get a certificate for an entire series of types.
Our company has received enquiries from performers of circus acrobatics, who wanted to replace or purchase new winches for their performances. It turns out that the work of acrobats is extremely dangerous due to the lack of certified winches for this application. We are talking about the electric-powered units. Many of them use equipment not designed for this purpose, at their own risk.
Based on the information we obtained from the Office of Technical Inspection, the matter is simple. Even if a winch has 5 safety brakes and its rope has a working factor of x 30, it cannot be used for "Manriding" unless the manual clearly states that it was designed for such a purpose.
Many people in the theatre and circus industry use winches after signing a statement with the venue owner, that they do so at their own risk. The Office of Technical Inspection makes it clear. If an accident occurs, the one who allowed the possibility of using such a machine, i.e. the owner of the facility, will face the prosecutor. The contractor's statement is of no significance.
Theatre and stage winches
Stage hoists and winches are available on the market. They comply with two German standards and are recognised by the Polish Office of Technical Inspection. Both these types of winches are used for lifting cargo, not people.
• BGV D8+ standard - this standard means that people are allowed to stay underneath the suspended load. These winches are not used for lifting people. Our company does manufacture machines which comply with this standard.
• BGV C1 standard - this standard means that people may stay underneath the load that is being lifted or lowered. These winches are not used for lifting people. Our company does manufacture machines which comply with this standard
If you are looking for winches for lifting people on a structure (personnel lifting), we are able to help, as we do manufacture such units (i.e. standard NEN-EN 1808). The structure itself also must have appropriate documentation proving that it was designated for transporting people
If you are looking for theatre or stage winches that meet the BGV D8+ or BGV C1 standards, we can help you as well.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for an electric winch designated for lifting people directly (Manriding - without structure), we can help you exclusively in strictly defined situations involving offshore work.