Mixing mayhem: BoSS explains the dangers of mixing tower components
Aug 16, 2023
It may not be widely known within the construction industry that mixing components when it comes to building towers can result in a non-compliant structure. Users may see similar components and think that it’s not a problem to use them together, however this is not the case. Carolina Marino, UK Product Manager for BoSS, a WernerCo brand, explains the serious safety risks involved with this and why users should think before they mix.
Falls from height continue to be the leading cause of accidents in the construction industry and ensuring that equipment meets safety requirements and that it is used correctly is one way to lower these figures and keep users safe. According to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) statistics for 2022, falls from heights caused the greatest deaths among work-related fatalities, which totalled 123 in the UK last year.
Setting the safety standard
The new European Product Standard for towers has been around since 2004, however the updated EN1004-1:2020 came into force in November 2020 and it tells users what materials, dimensions, design loads, safety and performance requirements mobile access towers should conform to.
One of the main changes that was made to the updated standard is that tower builds under 2.5m were not previously included in the scope of EN 1004, however the new standard now covers ALL towers below 2.5m and the maximum heights remain at 8m externally and 12m internally.
Compliance to safety standards is crucial in order to safely construct a tower that is suitable for work at height. The tower must be assembled according to the manufacturer’s instruction manual. If other components are used or they are assembled differently then the tower certification would be invalid. Some users may be unaware that mixing components from different manufacturers when constructing towers, regardless of their platform height, would result in a structure that is not compliant.
For example, EN1004-1:2020 states that only the original manufacturer components specified in the instruction manual shall be used. If this is not the case then users may be working with towers that are not complying with the safety standard, therefore increasing the risk of accidents, which could potentially have an impact on a project’s bottom line.
When components from different manufacturers are combined, a new structure has been created that has not been tested to the safety standard and therefore it does not comply. Although it may appear that all access towers look the same and components may be similar to each other, the actual characteristics and performance of the components can be very different. It’s important to remember that in EN 1004-1:2020 it is not the components that are approved it is the overall tower structure.
Mixing tower components is a practice that is strongly advised against, as the safety of the structure cannot be guaranteed. Most brands will offer product liability insurance on their components and by mixing different elements this may cause it to become invalidated.
When it comes to working at height, selecting the correct access equipment and ensuring that training us up to date is vital and if these considerations are looked at prior to choosing equipment for the job, then hopefully many accidents can be preventable.
Falls from a height are still the leading cause of injuries within the construction industry and ensuring that equipment conforms to safety standards and that it is being used correctly is one way to hopefully reduce these figures and keep users safe.
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