Man down devices: safety for lone workers

Man down devices - also called man-down devices - are a particular safety technology used for those workers who carry out their activities in isolated contexts, in solitude, or in environments with a communication system that is difficult to use. These devices are capable of detecting and monitoring the posture of the worker, generating various types of alarms in correspondence with events such as prolonged non-movement or maintenance of the lying position.

Although there is no regulatory definition of "lone worker", this concept includes workers who operate in the absence of other close subjects, without direct visual or voice contact with nearby operators. This category, therefore, it encompasses not only the workers who carry out their activities in places that are difficult to reach, but also those who continue to work beyond canonical hours, providing their presence at night or on holidays.

Moreover, lone workers are all those workers who - albeit with colleagues on site - operate in particularly difficult conditions in terms of physical effort, mode of not easy communication, adverse environmental factors or places that are difficult to access. For illustrative purposes, the workers in the cold rooms fall within the definition in question, to cleaning, to security services, but also agricultural operators, mountain or forest guards, workers at depth and height; all professions that denote a certain degree of potential difficulty in communicating with colleagues or rescuers.

The OPERATION of man down devices

The system must be able to send an alarm signal automatically in all cases where the worker is in a horizontal position or in a micromotility situation. The reporting by the worker in danger can take place both automatically and manually, using the appropriate button.

The man down device – placed on the belt, to the neck, in relation to the comfort of the worker – detects conditions defined as dangerous - for example an inclination of over 70 ° for more than 50 seconds – broadcasting their own Gps via cellular network to the subjects assigned to the assistance service.

If the operator remains in a horizontal position, indeed, the device send reports to a control center giving rise to telephone calls, SMS, GSM, cyclical and activating acoustic and visual alerts on site. This will give rise to on-site rescue and the desirable rescue of the worker caught by illness or accident.

Also for man down devices it is required that before placing the equipment on the market the manufacturer or importer ensures that it is designed and manufactured in compliance with directives applicable European countries. Being radio equipment, the applicable directive is the RED (Radio Equipment Directive) 2014/53/EU. This directive imposes requirements of good use of the radio spectrum, of safety and compatibilità elettromagnetica. Therefore, the typical procedures of the Testing of radio equipment.


As is known, the current legislation - in particular the Law Decree 81/08 – places on the employer the obligation to assess and prevent all risks to the health and safety of workers, providing them with "the necessary and suitable personal protective equipment".

Such prescriptions, specified by art. 45 of the D.. Legislative decree. 81/08, were anticipated by the Ministerial Decree n. 388 of 15 July 2003 which expressly mentioned the need on the part of the employer to provide “a suitable means of communication to quickly activate the emergency system of the National Health Service ".

At the regulatory level it is useful to remember, Furthermore, that in anticipation of the use of man-down devices it is necessary to formalize a privacy agreement company relating to geolocation and the processing of related data.

We conclude on a positive note in terms of business management: to encourage the use of man down devices, l’INAIL included their endowment in the requirements for the reduction of the average tariff rate, requesting the purchase invoices or the rental contract for the detection systems as evidence. An extra element to go to great lengths to purchase – and in the production - of these devices aimed at an ever growing segment of the market.

All devices put into use by the company must bear the CE marking confirming the successful completion of the process of CE certification of products following in particular the specific procedures for the Certification of radio equipment.

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