This month Prefabricated Access Suppliers and Manufacturers Association (PASMA) held their Tower Safety Webinars. An important issue arising out of this year’s webinar related to the suitability of the Skills, Knowledge, Training, Experience of those employee’s that manage the selection and provision of Towers as an access solution and the Skills, Knowledge, Training and Experience of supervisory employees; as well as that of the operatives expected to erect them.
Tower Week was established by PASMA to bring the whole industry together – from manufacturers to training instructors to operatives – to promote positive stories, images and messages about mobile access towers, prefabricated tower scaffolds and low level work platforms. The event is marked all over the world. Their goals are to inspire people by showing them all the different ways they can use towers and to help everyone work more safely by showcasing good practice. It’s an opportunity for all those who work with towers to celebrate their commitment to safety and all the exciting things that towers have helped them achieve.
As advisors working in many industries where low level and tower access is an everyday necessity, we very much look to the PASMA standard for assessing the suitability & competence of those involved in selecting and erecting these structures. It has become clear at a point of work level that even those bearing a PASMA assessed erectors card can and often deviate from the expected standards, resulting in some questionably safe structures being worked from.
Simply telling a team that they must use a tower is not good enough, the manager must themselves understand the full implications of the tower use, including the configuration of its erection to meet the access needs, the limitations of its intended use, the degree of supervision necessary to ensure it is built and used correctly, and the complexity of emergency rescue arrangements should the need arise.
Managers/Supervisors attending a PASMA for Users or a Low Level access course, whilst will undoubtedly impart some extremely valuable information of how to build and use the access equipment correctly, does not meet the requirements of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, Regulation 4, Organisation and Planning, in that:
(1) Every employer shall ensure that work at height is:
(a) properly planned; (Managers)
(b) appropriately supervised; and (Managers & Supervisors)
(c) carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe, and that its planning includes the selection of work equipment in accordance with regulation 7. (Managers)
(2) Reference in paragraph (1) to planning of work includes planning for emergencies and rescue. (Managers)
(3) Every employer shall ensure that work at height is carried out only when the weather conditions do not jeopardise the health or safety of persons involved in the work. (Manager and Supervisors)
(4) Paragraph (3) shall not apply where members of the police, fire, ambulance or other emergency services are acting in an emergency.
It should go without saying, in your emergency planning for rescue from such a structure, you cannot rely on the actions of the emergency services, your rescue plan MUST be specific to your access and work needs and make appropriate provision to enable a rescue to be carried out without their involvement.
And Regulation 5 – Competence
- Every employer shall ensure that no person engages in any activity, including organisation, planning and supervision, in relation to work at height or work equipment for use in such work unless he is competent to do so or, if being trained, is being supervised by a competent person.
With that in mind, PASMA offer a Managers course which focuses on the planning and organisation of Tower Access Solution for Work at Height, with less emphasis on the practical building of the structures.
To avoid any corporate vulnerability arising from inadequate training provision, employers are strongly advised to ensure their managers and supervisors have received the appropriate management training to ensure the correct towers are selected for their access needs, adequately risk assess their suitability for use, and ensure they are being erected, used and dismantled safely.
To find out more and review the recorded webinar events visit: https://pasma.co.uk/about/tower-week/