Mobile access towers
Mobile access towers are also known as tower scaffolds or towers are widely used and can provide an effective and safe means of gaining access to work at height.
However inappropriate erection and misuse of towers are the cause of numerous accidents each year. Aluminium and thin-wall steel towers are light and can easily overturn if used incorrectly
Towers rely on all parts being in place to ensure adequate strength they can collapse if sections are left out
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Erecting a tower
The manufacturer or supplier has a duty to provide an instruction manual which explains the erection sequence, including any bracing requirements. If the tower has been hired, the hirer has a duty to provide this information. This information must be passed on to the person erecting the tower.
Towers should only be erected by trained and competent people. There are a number of organisations that provide training for the safe erection and use of tower scaffolds following the methods described above.
Make sure the tower is resting on firm, level ground with the locked castors or base plates properly supported. Never use bricks or building blocks to take the weight of any part of the tower.
Always check the safe working height by referring to the instruction manual. Towers should never be erected to heights above those recommended by the manufacturer.
Always install stabilisers or outriggers when advised to do so in the instruction manual.
Remember, the stability of any tower is easily affected. Unless the tower has been specifically designed for such use, activities such as those listed below should never be carried out:
sheeting or exposure to strong winds loading with heavy equipment
using the tower to hoist materials or support rubbish chutes
Using a tower
There must be a safe way to get to and from the work platform. This must be on the inside of the tower by an appropriately designed built-in ladder. It is not safe to climb up the rungs on the end frames unless the rungs have been specifically designed for the purpose of getting to and from the working platform – these have rung spacings of between 230 and 300 mm and an anti-slip surface. If you are in doubt, consult the instruction manual.
Falls must be prevented where there is a risk that a fall could result in personal injury. The working platform must be provided with suitable edge protection and toe boards. Guard rails should be at least 950 mm high and an intermediate guard rail should be provided so the unprotected gap does not exceed 470 mm.
- Never use a tower as a support for ladders, trestles or other access equipmentin weather conditions which are likely to make it unstable.
- With broken or missing parts.
- With incompatible components.
- When moving a tower reduce the height.
- Check that there are no power lines or other obstructions overhead.
- Check that the ground is firm, level and free from potholes.
- Push or pull using manual effort from the base only never use powered vehicles.
- Never move it while there are people or materials on the tower.
- Never move it in windy conditions.
To prevent the use of incorrectly erected or damaged mobile access towers they must be inspected by a competent person. This is someone with the experience, knowledge and appropriate qualifications to enable them to identify any risks that are present and decide upon the measures required to control the risks.
Dismantling a tower
To dismantle a tower using the advance guard rail method, the operator starts from the top and reinstates the advance guard rail unit before removing the permanent guard rails and toe boards and descending to the lower level. The advance guard rail units are then relocated to the level below and the process is repeated, with collective fall prevention measures being maintained throughout.