Sheffield-based SME Safety Fabrications Ltd manufactures fall protection and building access solutions. This includes roof top anchoring systems that allow roped access (e.g., abseiling) at height.

The challenge:

Safety Fabrications Ltd wanted to develop a new davit arm and socket system that could be used on tall structures to improve rope access for building maintenance. Their unique product idea avoided permanent obstruction on roof tops and allowed for easy installation and removal. After drafting up initial designs, the weight of the davit needed to be reduced by over a third. However, this needed to be achieved without compromising on strength while still meeting the British Standards (BS) specification.

What we did

Through the Sheffield Innovation Programme (SIP), Sheffield Hallam’s Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI) worked with Safety Fabrications Ltd to design different davit arm configurations which would satisfy the complex needs of the BS specification.


Some of the parameters the design had to exceed included:

  • A deformation test on an anchor system of 600kg static load which produced a 10mm permanent deformation.
  • A dynamic performance test on 2 x 100kg masses that were dropped successively from a height of 1m which successfully held the masses from the ground.
  • A static strength test of 15kN and 21kN loads on the anchor base points which successfully held the load.


Academics from Sheffield Hallam reconfigured the initial davit layout design and created a suitable design which adopted a plated structure. By working collaboratively, academic expertise was shared with Safety Fabrications Ltd which allowed them to create a prototype design that was ready for manufacture and testing.

The results

As a result of the support provided by the Sheffield Innovation Programme, Safety Fabrications Ltd were able to release a new product into the market. The davit arm is now considered to be an established product within the client’s range, and they are optimistic it will become one of their key products, accounting for up to 10% of their revenue.

“The Sheffield Innovation Programme provided guidance, support and specialist consultancy allowing Safety Fabrications to overcome the technical challenges faced when developing a Davit arm to be used by Industrial Roped Access Technicians (abseilers) for both access & rescue.

Working with engineering specialists within the university allowed us to theoretically explore a range of options prior to manufacture & physical testing.”

John BoyleManaging Director at Safety Fabrications Limited

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