hOW TO SAFELY ACCESS A ROOF
Safe@Heights is proud to manufacture all our access ladders, stairs and platforms right here in Brisbane. We use only Australian made aluminium from a local Brisbane mill, making all our aluminium fabricated products not only 100% Australian made but also 100% Queensland made.
Our dedicated team of fabricators are committed to producing only the highest quality products that all come with a ten year guarantee*.
In an industry that is dominated by a one size fits all mentality. Safe@Heights is the only company who can provide a truly custom made product for your building. We provide a compliance guarantee with all our installations. Which means when you have a Safe@Heights installation on your building you rest assured knowing that you have an access system that is compliant, high quality and above all safe.
DESIGN – IT ALL STARTS HERE
The first step in deciding on what type of access system you need will start with three questions:
- Why you are needing the access
- Who will be using the access
- How often will it be used
These answers will help decide what access system will be most appropriate, compliant and safe. All ladders, platforms and stairs must comply with AS1657:2018 and the Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces Code of Practice. We will provide you with all the information regarding compliance and present our recommendations to you for your consideration. From this you can make an informed decision. Click here to read more about choosing the right type of roof access ladder for your needs.
TYPES OF ACCESS
There are different types of access systems. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is important to understand that there is a hierarchy that you must be aware of when it comes to assessing which type is best for your situation. The Work Health and Safety Act requires that you take this into consideration when designing the access. Below is a description of each type of system. We have put them in order of safety and where they appear on the hierarchy. But don’t get too concerned about trying to work out what will be the best solution for you, as we are always here to help. One of our experienced Height Safety Specialists is ready to assist at any time.
Stairs are the preferred option when accessing from one level to another. They allow not only safe access but also allow items to be carried between the levels. All other forms of access require the user to maintain three points of contact at all times. Even though stairs are considered the safest option, often due to cost, limited space or the practicalities of the site, stairs can’t be used.
Our system is constructed of aluminium and is custom made to suit your building and application. We can also provide security barriers or fencing to prevent unauthorised access.
STEP TYPE LADDER
Step ladders are a great access solution that are between a standard angled ladder and stairs. A step ladder has a 100mm rung tread depth, an angle between 60° and 70° (65° being the preferred angle) and has a hand rail either side for additional support. They are easy to climb and have a low residual fall risk due to their angle, deep treads and hand railing.
The maximum height that this type of access can bridge is 6m before a change of direction platform is required. Any vertical height over 3m we recommend that a cage be fitted with 2m of guard railing either side of the upper of the upper entry point to prevent sideways falls.
ANGLED RUNG LADDER
The most common ladder you will see on most buildings is the angled ladder. It is between 70° and 90° with the preferred angle between 70° and 75°. It must be noted that the Managing the Risk of Falls at Work Places Code of Practice states in section 7.2 that angled ladders should not have an angle greater than 75°. It goes on further to recommend that if a ladder has a greater angle than this then it should be fitted with either a permanent or temporary fall arrest system. Therefore we recommend that the angle should always be 75°.
The residual risk of a fall is higher due to its steeper angle and reduced rung width. However these are a very safe ladder when climbed correctly and are a great solution for access. They are cost effective and take up very little space.
The maximum height that this type of access system can bridge is 6m before a change of direction platform is required. Any vertical height over 3m we recommend that a cage be fitted with 2m of guard railing either side of the upper entry point to prevent sideways falls.
A vertical ladder is considered the highest risk and should only be used when no other access system can be installed. The Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces Code of Practice states that all vertical ladders must have either a permanent or temporary fall arrest system installed. You must also provide information and training on how to use the ladder safely, including a rescue plan that has been tried and proven to work.
It must be noted that many vertical ladders have cages. However it has been proven that it is very difficult if not at times impossible to perform a rescue within the confines of a cage. For this reason we recommend that if no other access system can be installed and a vertical ladder is the only option, that a permanent fall arrest system be installed with no cage.
Due to the very high residual risk of this type of access system and the required training and inductions that must be implemented we recommend that you contact us to discuss this option before deciding to proceed, so you can be made fully aware of your responsibilities.
For further information about this type of system please contact us
A roof access ladder is often referred to by using the generic term, caged ladder. But what most people don’t realise is that a caged ladder can describe any type of ladder such as a step type, angled or vertical that also has a cage. We recommend that a cage should be installed on any type of ladder once the vertical height exceeds 3m. The purpose of the cage is to prevent someone from falling off the ladder. This works very well for step type and angled. However this is not the case with a vertical caged ladder as the cage does nothing more than funnel the fall downwards and can even cause more injuries. That is why vertical ladders should have a permanent fall arrest cable system. Section 7.2 of the Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces provides further information and guidance on this.
All caged ladders must comply with AS1657:2018 which is the Australian Standard for all ladders, platforms, walkways and guard railing. Strict design criteria must be adhered too. The main points being
- Cage starting height from the ground must be no lower than 2m and no higher than 2.2m
- Space from ladder to cage must not be less than 750mm for angled and vertical ladders and between 900mm and 1000mm for step type depending upon the angle
- Maximum distance between hoops 2m
- The cage must extend past the top platform by a minimum of 1000mm
- Distance between the cage bars must not be more than 150mm
There are other criteria that must be met, but these are the main points to be aware of.
While vertical and angled caged ladders are the most common types of access, when considering how to access your roof you must consider the hierarchy of access as detailed in AS1657 Section 2. This states that the order of preference is Stairs, Step Type, Angled and Vertical.
For more information about the rules contained in AS1657 please contact us to speak with one of our design specialists.
No matter the reason for access or the location, we can custom design, manufacture and install the right solution for you. One of our Height Safety Specialists is able to provide you with the right advice and make you aware of the legislation you should know and the options that are available to you.
For further information about how we can help you please contact us either via email, phone or in person at our Slacks Creek office.
*Refer to our Product Warranty document for more information.