The Benefits of Site Stairways and Walkways on Construction Projects
Despite stringent health and safety regulations here in the UK and a steady decrease in accidents in the workplace over the past twenty years, falls from height remain the major cause of fatalities and life changing injuries in the construction industry. This means that construction company owners and site managers need to carefully consider the type of safety equipment that will provide their workforce with the best protection, reducing the likelihood of an accident while still enabling high levels of productivity on site.
This is where stair access solutions comes in – whether they are ladders, scaffolding and access towers or site stairways and walkways. A site stairway or walkway is often the safest and most cost effective solution when it comes to accessing work areas at a height so today we’re going to take a look at some of the issues that need to be taken into account when selecting a solution to suit your company.
Over the past few years increasingly strict regulations and best practices have supported a shift away from ladders which the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) deems should only be used when it is not practicable to use other work equipment to prevent or reduce the risk of a fall. With construction site being such busy places, climbing ladders laden with tools and materials may put workers at risk. Navigating a ladder successfully and safely means that there need to be points of contact at any one time which can by difficult when carrying equipment.
In contrast, site stairways are designed to allow forward facing movement just like on normal staircases. If you’re considering buying a site stairway make sure that any temporary or moveable stairway conforms to EN 12811 which specifies the acceptable angles, minimum width, rise and load capacities. You should also make sure you choose one that has the following features:
- a double handrail on both sides that can be automatically adjusted to the correct height for the angle of the stairs
- a locking mechanism which will keep the stairway at the correct angle
- Treads should have a non-slip surface to provide extra grip
- The bottom of the stringers should be designed to prevent slips.
Site stairways and walkways are quick and easy to install and secure whether externally on a building at ground level or internally to gain access between floors. Another advantage that comes with a site stairway or walkway is the flexibility they offer. They can be constructed with a scaffolding tower to easy movement, especially on projects where access up through the floors is not possible in the early stages of the development.
Stairways and walkways can be adaptable and sections can be added to adjust to an increasing height or depth (when working in the ground).
You’ll need to make sure that there is good ground clearance in order to use a stairway at a safe angle – for example, if the construction workers need access to a height of three metres, there needs to be enough ground clearance to enable a safe angle of use – otherwise a ladder would need to be used instead.