Scaffold Towers: Control Measures and Legal Requirements

Scaffold Towers: Control Measures and Legal Requirements

A Scaffold Tower (often called a “zip up” or access tower) is used to provide a stable, free standing, moveable work platform at heights of up to 14m. Making them very useful for a wide variety of tasks.

Generally bought or hired from a company such as ourselves, they are a relatively cheap option where extended periods of working at height are involved.

What Can Go Wrong?

  • Falls from height – workers could fall from the tower whilst it is being assembled/disassembled (before double handrails are in place) or when ascending or descending the internal ladder.
  • Falling items – items could be dropped from the tower onto those below, or pieces of the tower could be dropped when assembling/disassembling it.
  • Manual handling – workers could be injured when assembling/disassembling the tower, or when lifting materials and equipment to the platform level.
  • Collapsing or overturning the tower – If the tower is in a poor condition, is not assembled correctly, is poorly positioned (e.g. on soft or uneven ground), is overloaded or struck by a vehicle.

Legal Requirements.

  • As part of the Work at Height Regulations, duty holders must ensure:
  • All work at height is properly planned and organised.
  • Those involved in work at height are competent.
  • The risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used.
  • The risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled.
  • Equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained.

Control Measures

Planning your work at height

  • Given the nature of a job, decide whether or not a scaffold tower is the most appropriate means of access.
  • The scaffold tower should be sourced from a reputable supplier (Alloy Access been a very reputable supplier of course) who can confirm that it is appropriate for the job, complies with current safety standards, is in good working order and provide a clear set of instructions detailing its assembly and usage.
  • Make sure that there are appropriately trained personnel onsite to erect and dismantle the tower.

Tower Construction

  • Make sure that you assemble and disassemble the tower in accordance with the manufacturer’s safety instructions. Ensuring that you understand them before beginning work and that you have all the pieces of the tower.
  • Wherever possible, place the tower on firm and level ground. Where this is not possible you should make use of footplates and spreader boards to make sure that the tower stays vertical and does not sink into the ground.
  • Dependent on the height of the tower and the risk of materials and equipment falling, those building or using the tower should make use of suitable head protection. Such as a hard hat or climbing helmet.
  • Make sure that there are double handrails at all platform levels and toe boards at the working platform level.
  • Make sure that the stabilisers are in place according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Where not possible the tower should be tied in to a solid structure.
  • Before use thoroughly inspect the tower and continue to inspect it regularly for any signs of damage.

Tower Use

  • Position the tower away from pedestrian/vehicle routes and overhead obstructions such as cables/
  • When in place lock the castors to prevent movement during use. Never move the tower with people on it.
  • Never climb up or lift objects up the outside of the tower, always use the internal ladders.
  • When working on the tower do not stand on any object in order to gain extra height.
  • If there is a risk of people coming near to the tower an exclusion zone should be maintained around it using fencing/hoarding.

Did You Know?

  • Falls from height often top the list of causes of serious workplace accidents.


Sources: BBC and HSE

Precipitous Ltd can supply safe, compliant Scaffold Towers