26 November 2013

Towers go the extra mile

Towers go the extra mile

With its emphasis on safety and best practice, PASMA Tower Week ran on 11-15 November 2013 promising to be a landmark first-time event in the work at height sector – and so it proved.

Delivered nationally by trade body PASMA and its member organisations - and supported by Working Well Together (WWT) - it saw mobile access towers take centre stage through a series of online interviews and presentations, alongside regional displays, demonstrations, tower surgeries and health checks.

At its peak the Tower Week website attracted over a 1,000 visitors a day. During this period of the campaign hundreds of existing and potential users requested PASMA’s free Tower Fact Pack.

PASMA’s Managing Director, Peter Bennett, said: “By providing a range of free resources our principal aim was to promote tower safety. However, we also wanted to demonstrate the benefits of towers in a growing number of different sectors, and to use the campaign to provide a snapshot of current tower use to inform future safety-led initiatives and projects. The images and information we received as a result of Tower Week will prove invaluable.”

A popular start to Tower Week was an exclusive interview with Justine Lee, an Inspector of Health and Safety in the HSE’s Construction Sector Team, who discussed the findings of this year’s two ‘Safer Sites’ initiatives targeting the refurbishment, repair and maintenance sectors. Justine explained the main issues arising from these unannounced visits.

During the September inspection initiative, inspectors visited a total of 2,607 sites and found basic safety standards were not being met on 1,105 of these. Significantly, one of the three most common problems identified was a failure to protect workers during activities at height.

Other digital events during the course of the week included a talk by PASMA’s technical director, Don Aers, on the diversity, advantages and potential of towers, and another on the essential points to consider when buying, owning and looking after a mobile access tower.

An additional talk featured PAS 250, PASMA’s new product specification designed to protect users of low-level access equipment such as podiums and pulpits. The specification covers all low-level work platforms with one working platform and side protection, for use by one person with a maximum platform height of less than 2.5 metres.

Around the country PASMA members organised a series of well-attended practical events designed to reinforce the need to use only a mobile tower which is certified to product standard EN1004 (BS EN1004 in the UK), and one that can be assembled and dismantled using either of the two recognised safe methods: Through the Trap (3T) or Advanced Guardrail (AGR).

Members also focused on the flexibility, strength and lightness of towers with particular reference to bridging, façade, stepped, high level and cantilever structures. Not surprisingly, PASMA training featured strongly at a number of venues through training tasters and panel discussions.

Anyone requiring a Tower Fact Pack can visit towerweek.pasma.org.uk while stocks last. It contains new material created specifically for the campaign, together with handy-sized pocket cards giving guidance on assembling, moving and dismantling mobile access towers, and the mandatory requirement for recording tower inspections. A free desktop tower is also included.

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