Day 4: The do’s and don’ts of using standard Mobile Access Towers

It’s hard to believe, but it’s now Day 4 of PASMA TOWER WEEK. We’ve covered low level work platforms, one man towers and narrow towers, and now it’s the turn of STANDARD MOBILE ACCESS TOWERS – those unsung heroes of height safety that are in daily use up and down the country.

However, as with all types of access equipment, there are certain do’s and don’ts. Here are 9 of the most important:

Before you start. If there’s no alternative to working at height – and you’re satisfied that a tower is the most suitable piece of equipment for the job – undertake a risk assessment to include a review of any potential hazards such as overhead obstructions and ground conditions. Also check for pedestrian and vehicular access.


Choose one of two methods

Always use one of the following two methods approved by PASMA – and the HSE – to assemble and dismantle the  tower.  


What’s the first?

Through the Trap (3T): This method requires the operative to work partially through the open trap to position guardrails at suitable distances above the platform before standing on the platform to continue the assembly process.


And the second?

Advance Guardrail: This method involves the use of advance guardrail units that are positioned ahead of the platform so that when the operative gains access, the advance guardrail is already in position. The operative then installs the permanent guardrails and the advance unit is repositioned ahead of the next platform.

 EN1004 sign

Where does BS EN 1004 fit in?

Only buy or hire a tower which conforms to BS EN 1004, the European product standard for mobile access towers. Towers which conform to this standard must meet minimum safety requirements. Your life or the life of others may depend on it. Why take the risk?


When should towers be inspected?

Your tower should be inspected before it’s first used, at suitable intervals depending on its working environment and use, and every time that something happens that may affect its stability or safety.


What to watch for!

Make sure that the tower is marked with a BS EN 1004 label; that it has purpose-designed platforms with safe trapdoor entry and exit; that it has in-built access for safe ascent and decent; that it’s supplied with the correct size and quantity of stabilisers to prevent overturning and that it’s got the correct quantity and number of guardrails with the correct gaps and dimensions to prevent a fall.

Top tip: Never stand on an unprotected platform when building, using or dismantling a mobile access tower.


Make certain you’re competent

Competence in the workplace begins with thorough and consistent training. Don’t simply rely on ‘training on the job’. There’s a PASMA training centre near you. Make sure you’re competent to build, inspect, use and dismantle a tower. Above all, make sure you’re safe.