FAQs

Please see below the most common questions we usually get asked about the Alto access products.

If we still haven't answered your questions here, please get in touch and our sales team will assist you.

  • What is a ladderspan tower?

    Ladderspan towers became popular around 20-30 years ago as an alternative to the original stair tower which incorporated a stair unit between platform levels.

    Originally a lot of the impetus for this was a cost saving exercise as stair units could be eliminated and some manufacturers also eliminated almost all of the intermediate platforms.  The consequence of this is of course the greatly increased risk of a serious injury in the event of an operative falling from the ladder due to the greater distances involved.

    This advantage has been significantly reduced by the improvement in standards and regulation over the years which mean that there is much less scope for omitting intermediate platforms.

    Now users are broadly left with a ladder access tower – which is not terribly convenient compared to a staircase and a series of hatches to negotiate – also a needless inconvenience.

    Scaffolders are being strongly encouraged to move from ladder to stair access on the grounds of the substantial safety benefits – we think there should be a similar move for tower users too.  The benefits are fairly obvious as far as we can see.

     

  • What is a stair tower?

    When towers were first developed, they were all stair towers.  As the name suggests, they use staircases to gain access to the various levels rather than ladders either built or clipped into the frames of the tower.

    Ladderspan towers became more popular around 20-30 years ago as they involve a few less components and are consequently a little simpler to erect and are cheaper for hire companies to buy.

    However, a ladder is intrinsically a riskier thing to use than a staircase – all other factors being the same.  It is certainly pretty difficult to safely carry any tools or materials up a ladder in a tower and negotiate the hatch opening safely.

  • What is an AGR tower?

  • What is a 3T tower?

    A 3T tower is a traditionally designed tower using horizontal and diagonal braces to join the end frames together forming a rigid structure.  3T stands for "Through The Trapdoor" and refers to the operative remaining within the confines of the trap platform until all the guardrails on the newest installed platform are installed.

  • What is EN 1004? ---- STILL TO ADD TO

    BS EN 1004:2004 is the current European standard which sets required levels of performance for mobile access towers with working platform heights of between 2.5 metres and 8 metres (outdoors) or 12 metres (indoors).

    It defines a number of characteristics of towers, such as modes of access and sets minimum performance levels for things like platform or guardrail deflection under load, sizes of components, or gaps between elements such as guardrails.

    It also specifies a load rating derived from a pre-existing scaffolding standard.  A tower can be either class two or class three.  A class two tower is................. A class three tower is...............

    All towers that are available on the market today claim to be a class three tower, and indeed most - if not all - have a test certificate that says they have been tested to class three. Unfortunately for users, all of these towers except for the Alto HD and MD ranges, restrict their double width tower platform loading to substantially less than a class three load. This means that any users..................

  • What is BS 1139 Part 6?

    BS 1139-6 is a British Standard that governs structures made from mobile access tower components in non-standard configurations – in other words anything other than a straight up and down tower.

    Examples of such structures would include:

    - Linked towers – also referred to as façade runs;

    - Towers incorporating bridges or high clearance frames;

    - Cantilever towers;

    Towers built to over 12 metre platform height – and, also towers built to less than 2.5 metres platform height.

    These are advanced tower applications and it is vital that anyone considering using a tower in such a form has a design approved by the manufacturer either as a “standard” variant or as a bespoke design.

    This is because the loads on certain components in these applications can be considerably greater than in normal builds – and with the exception of the Alto HD and MD ranges, no other tower currently available on the market today can safely cope with the loads that some of these structures without additional strengthening components.

  • Can I build a tower on stairs?

    Building a tower on a staircase requires special consideration.  Clearly wheels would be an absurdly dangerous element and for most staircases, the tower needs to be quite narrow to fit in the stairwell and facilitate operatives moving up and down the staircase whilst it is in position.

  • Do I need to be trained to use a tower?

    The Work at Height Regulations requires all persons working at height to be competent using the relevant equipment and they must be able to prove their competency.

    There is no specific mandatory qualification in relation to towers above and beyond the general requirement of the WAHR set out above.  However, PASMA offer a range of courses including many that are specifically designed to equip users to assemble, use and disassemble towers more safely.

  • Why do I need the manufacturer’s instructions?

    Towers are not all the same.  The fact that you may have built a tower before does not mean that this tower will be the same.  If you do not build your tower correctly, its strength and stability is likely to be impaired.

    Quite simply – if you don’t have a copy of the manufacturer’s instructions, you cannot safely assemble the tower.

    If you hire a tower you should be issued a copy by the hire company.

    A good set of instructions should give you crystal clear directions and comprehensive safety information and schedules of components.

  • When should mobile towers be inspected?

    Towers must be inspected as often as is necessary to ensure safety.

    PASMA recommends that on towers where it is possible to fall 2m or more you should carry out inspections after assembly or significant alteration, before use and following any event likely to have affected the towers stability or structural integrity.  You should complete and issue the inspection report in accordance with the requirements of the work at Height Regulations. Re-inspect the tower as often as is necessary to ensure safety but at least every 7 days and issue a new report each time.

     

  • Should you use a safety harness when working on a mobile tower?

    Only the Alto Ultima tower is tested and certified as capable of safely providing work positioning and fall arrest protection in addition to the collective protection afforded by the guardrails of the tower.

  • What is a ladderspan tower?

    Ladderspan towers became popular around 20-30 years ago as an alternative to the original stair tower which incorporated a stair unit between platform levels.

    Originally a lot of the impetus for this was a cost saving exercise as stair units could be eliminated and some manufacturers also eliminated almost all of the intermediate platforms.  The consequence of this is of course the greatly increased risk of a serious injury in the event of an operative falling from the ladder due to the greater distances involved.

    This advantage has been significantly reduced by the improvement in standards and regulation over the years which mean that there is much less scope for omitting intermediate platforms.

    Now users are broadly left with a ladder access tower – which is not terribly convenient compared to a staircase and a series of hatches to negotiate – also a needless inconvenience.

    Scaffolders are being strongly encouraged to move from ladder to stair access on the grounds of the substantial safety benefits – we think there should be a similar move for tower users too.  The benefits are fairly obvious as far as we can see.

     

  • What is a stair tower?

    When towers were first developed, they were all stair towers.  As the name suggests, they use staircases to gain access to the various levels rather than ladders either built or clipped into the frames of the tower.

    Ladderspan towers became more popular around 20-30 years ago as they involve a few less components and are consequently a little simpler to erect and are cheaper for hire companies to buy.

    However, a ladder is intrinsically a riskier thing to use than a staircase – all other factors being the same.  It is certainly pretty difficult to safely carry any tools or materials up a ladder in a tower and negotiate the hatch opening safely.

     

  • What is an AGR tower?

  • What is a 3T tower?

    A 3T tower is a traditionally designed tower using horizontal and diagonal braces to join the end frames together forming a rigid structure.  3T stands for "Through The Trapdoor" and refers to the operative remaining within the confines of the trap platform until all the guardrails on the newest installed platform are installed.

  • What is EN 1004?

    BS EN 1004:2004 is the current European standard which sets required levels of performance for mobile access towers with working platform heights of between 2.5 metres and 8 metres (outdoors) or 12 metres (indoors).

    It defines a number of characteristics of towers, such as modes of access and sets minimum performance levels for things like platform or guardrail deflection under load, sizes of components, or gaps between elements such as guardrails.

    It also specifies a load rating derived from a pre-existing scaffolding standard.  A tower can be either class two or class three. A class two tower is rated at 1.5kN/m3 – suitable for light duties only, such as painting and cleaning. A class three tower is rated at 2.0kN/m3 – suitable for general building work, brickwork etc.

    All towers that are available on the market today claim to be a class three tower, and indeed most - if not all - have a test certificate that says they have been tested to class three. Unfortunately for users, all of these towers except for the Alto HD and MD ranges, restrict their double width tower platform loading to substantially less than a class three load. This means that anyone  using a double width tower to perform a job role that exceeds the light duties category must use an Alto tower only.

  • What is BS 1139 Part 6?

    BS 1139-6 is a British Standard that governs structures made from mobile access tower components in non-standard configurations – in other words anything other than a straight up and down tower.

    Examples of such structures would include:

    - Linked towers – also referred to as façade runs;

    - Towers incorporating bridges or high clearance frames;

    - Cantilever towers;

    Towers built to over 12 metre platform height – and, also towers built to less than 2.5 metres platform height.

    These are advanced tower applications and it is vital that anyone considering using a tower in such a form has a design approved by the manufacturer either as a “standard” variant or as a bespoke design.

    This is because the loads on certain components in these applications can be considerably greater than in normal builds – and with the exception of the Alto HD and MD ranges, no other tower currently available on the market today can safely cope with the loads that some of these structures without additional strengthening components.

  • Can I build a tower on stairs?

    Building a tower on a staircase requires special consideration.  Clearly wheels would be an absurdly dangerous element and for most staircases, the tower needs to be quite narrow to fit in the stairwell and facilitate operatives moving up and down the staircase whilst it is in position.

  • Do I need to be trained to use a tower?

    The Work at Height Regulations requires all persons working at height to be competent using the relevant equipment and they must be able to prove their competency.

    There is no specific mandatory qualification in relation to towers above and beyond the general requirement of the WAHR set out above.  However, PASMA offer a range of courses including many that are specifically designed to equip users to assemble, use and disassemble towers more safely.

  • Do I need the manufacturer’s instructions?

    Towers are not all the same.  The fact that you may have built a tower before does not mean that this tower will be the same.  If you do not build your tower correctly, its strength and stability is likely to be impaired.

    Quite simply – if you don’t have a copy of the manufacturer’s instructions, you cannot safely assemble the tower.

    If you hire a tower you should be issued a copy by the hire company.

    A good set of instructions should give you crystal clear directions and comprehensive safety information and schedules of components.

  • When should a tower be inspected?

    Towers must be inspected as often as is necessary to ensure safety.

    PASMA recommends that on towers where it is possible to fall 2m or more you should carry out inspections after assembly or significant alteration, before use and following any event likely to have affected the towers stability or structural integrity.  You should complete and issue the inspection report in accordance with the requirements of the work at Height Regulations. Re-inspect the tower as often as is necessary to ensure safety but at least every 7 days and issue a new report each time.

     

  • Should you use a harness on a tower?

    Only the Alto Ultima tower is tested and certified as capable of safely providing work positioning and fall arrest protection in addition to the collective protection afforded by the guardrails of the tower.

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