Roof Access Stairs
What’s the safest method to access a roof?
There are many different reasons for needing to access a roof. Regardless of the reason, location, frequency or type of works being carried out, the safest and therefore most compliant method is via a set of roof access stairs.
Any type of roof access must comply with AS1657:2018 – Fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders – Design, construction and installation. Section 2 provides clear guidance on selecting the type of access. In this article we will be concentrating on stairs.
Stairs are the preferred method of roof access as they provide the safest solution with the least risk of a fall. They also allow workers to safely carry tools and materials onto the roof which you are unable to do with a ladder. Stairs can be installed at an angle of between 20° and 45° with the preferred range being between 30° and 38°. They can be used to either access directly onto a roof or as a means of moving up a roof to equipment where the roof pitch or angle is greater than 30°.
When designing roof access stairs there are a number of rules that you must comply with. They can all be found in Section 7.2 of AS1657.
Here you can find all the requirements that must be met. Considerations that must be taken into account include:
- Width and slope of the stairs
- Number of risers and platforms
- Height and width of treads
- The hand railing and toe board (kick plate) requirements
- Required head room
Are there different types of roof access stairs?
There are a number of modular type stair systems on the market that can be installed. However often they do not fit the site or location properly. This can leave the building owner with an access system that has residual risks that either must be controlled with other methods or are unable to be controlled and pose an ongoing risk. In our experience we have found that site specific custom designed and fabricated stairs is the only safe and compliant option.
There are three stages that must be completed to ensure compliance, safety and usability.
Roof Access – DESIGN
In the first stage of design, all factors must be taken into consideration. In many ways the roof access stairs design phase is the most important stage. First you need to look for an appropriate location. Some of the considerations include ease of access, security (preventing unauthorised access), available space and roof entry point. All these factors must be taken into consideration. For example, often stairs are located in an area that can be accessed by members of the public. Therefore as part of the design you need to consider installing some type of fence or enclosure. Or the space you have available is limited and so this will affect the overall design. Many of our clients require a design and Form 15 from an engineer. This also allows for scaled drawings to be submitted for approval. We highly recommend this and work with some great engineers who can provide this service. As part of stage 1 we also look at the roof entry point and take into consideration any platforms, fall prevention systems or guard railings that may be needed to ensure safety once on the roof.
ROOF ACCESS – FABRICATION
This is where all of the roof access design and planning takes shape. While we can fabricate roof access stairs from any type of material, we mostly use and recommend aluminium. Aluminium stairs are easier to install so cut down on labour costs, can be installed in difficult locations, are low maintenance and have a long service life. Our team of fabricators at Safe at Heights, are very experienced and produce outstanding custom made stairs. At the stage of Roof Access Design is also where we consider how they will be installed. Depending upon the site and the required installation process, we will fabricate the roof access stairs to suit. For example, if we are unable to get installation equipment into the location such as a crane or EWP, we will fabricate the stairs in smaller sections that can be fitted into place by hand.
ROOF ACCESS – INSTALLATION
The final stage; Roof Access Installation; is where it all comes together. The experienced team of installers at Safe at Heights, can install a standard set of single flight roof access stairs in just two days. In many respects, the installation stage is the easiest section.
The end result is a great looking set of roof access stairs that will be safe, compliant and long-lasting. Click here to view some of our installations.
SAFE AT HEIGHTS – YOUR HEIGHT SAFETY SPECIALISTS
As a leader of the industry, Safe At Heights provides customised and premium height safety solutions. We specialise in compliance auditing, design and installation of roof access and fall prevention systems.
Contact us today on 07 3208 5833 or via our contact page to speak to one of our experienced height safety team members here at Safe at Heights.