Onsite ladder safety a concern across the Tasman

The safety of workers onsite is becoming more of a focus in construction in New Zealand – and rightly so if we are to reduce New Zealand’s regrettable workplace injury statistics. Worksafe reports that falls from heights of three metres or less off roofs and from ladders account for most of the serious harm incidents reported from the construction sector.

Our Australian colleagues are facing a similar challenge, where falls from ladders caused an average of 23 deaths a year over the decade to 2012. It may be one thing to recognize that height safety is a big issue for worker welfare, but quite another to also discover that traditional ladders may in fact be adversely affecting site productivity.

In response to this insight, Australian construction giant Icon Co contacted SafeSmart Access to help them to make their sites safer, easier to navigate on foot, and  to create a more efficient flow of workers moving around the site.

Icon Co’s Height Access Challenge

Icon’s contractors faced a challenge for egress between floors not suited to either scaffolding or extension ladders. They required a solution for foot traffic to travel in both directions – up and down – to avoid congestion and waiting times at the top and bottom of ladders.

The access solution needed to be easily transported and hand manoeuvred to save time and money on potential craneage. Ideally they needed a unit that could be easily repositioned for use in different positions on the site, and adjustable for use at different height variances. While SafeSmart Access has a standard range of aluminium height adjustable portable stairs called AdjustaStair, Icon needed a wider stair for two-way access for multiple workers to use concurrently.

Made from high-grade aluminium, a customised AdjustaStair was designed in-house at SafeSmart Access’s Northland manufacturing facility according to stringent regulatory standards, and according to the specific needs of the worksite. The 500kg load capacity allows for approximately four or five people including tools, with crane lifting lugs and easy foldability for transporting. Manufactured in New Zealand by SafeSmart Access to ISO9001 standards, the stairs were delivered to site within a very short turnaround time.

The results were immediate. Workers could use the stairs simultaneously, with the added benefit of a free hand to carry tools, thanks to a 1200mm stair width. All queues formed due to standard ladders were eliminated, and workers are now able to get more done during the shift. Height adjustability for access between variance of formwork deck heights makes the unit flexible from project to project, especially with the inclusion of self-levelling stairs that accommodate several pitch placements.

SafeSmart Access’ Nathan Joyce has heard nothing but great reports since commissioning.

“Icon are integrating the use of products like this into the project plan of every subsequent site now,” Nathan says. “They see custom platforms and stairs as an asset that helps them meet deadlines and budgets, as well as providing heightened safety for their most important asset, human staff.”

The extra-wide Adjustastair Maxi is now part of the SafeSmart Access standard range globally.

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