If you are going to use a scaffold tower in a professional capacity – either self-employed or as the employee of a company – you need to follow the Working at Height regulations. The regulations state that a risk assessment must be carried out before work can commence, anyone working at height must be competent to do so and the equipment must be assembled properly. Let’s have a look at how these regulations apply to scaffold towers.

Carry out a risk assessment

A risk assessment is the first step before any kind of work at height so that you can establish whether a scaffold tower is the most appropriate kind of access equipment to use. First consider whether the task can be accomplished without working at height as this can avoid any risk.

Now look at whether a tower can be correctly assembled in a safe place. It is also worth ensuring that the scaffold tower you are using has been bought or hired from a reputable supplier. Finally, remember that the person carrying out the risk assessment must be competent to do so.

Make sure the tower is assembled properly

It’s vital that the scaffold tower is assembled properly. This starts with siting the tower on firm and level ground – or using footplates or spreader boards to ensure that it is kept secure and in place. You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions throughout the process and never attempt to construct the tower any other way, for example, in order to get additional height.

After the assembly it should be inspected before anyone attempts to use it. It doesn’t matter what safety precautions have been taken if the tower has been set up incorrectly.

Ensure those using it are competent to do so

You need to make sure that anyone who is assembling or using the tower is competent to do so. In this context a ‘competent’ person is someone with professional training, knowledge or on-the-job experience in order to assemble, inspect, understand the hazards and use the tower without posing a risk to themselves or anyone around them.

Use the tower only in a way that’s appropriate

It’s also important to recognise that you need to use the tower in the way it is intended. For example, you should never work on a platform that doesn’t have guard rails. Nor should you stand on a platform when they tower is being built or dismantled without the proper protection. Additionally you need to follow the instruction manual every time – don’t assume that you will be able to assemble the tower based on your own experience.