Whether you work in construction, one of the trades or in building maintenance, you’ll likely be familiar with access equipment. At its most basic, access equipment is the equipment needed to allow people to work safely at height. Depending on the type of project, access equipment also needs to be able to hold and transport tools and materials.
Access equipment may be as basic as a ladder, or something as sophisticated as an articulating boom. Factors such as how easily the required location can be reached, the weight that needs to be transported and the terrain surrounding the location all play a part in determining what type of access equipment is going to be most suitable. Read on to discover some of the most commonly used access equipment and when the situations where it’s likely to be utilised.
A boom lift
Arguably the most versatile type of lift, the boom lift consists of a platform enclosed by safety railings mounted on a boom. The boom can move both horizontally and vertically, enabling workers to be deployed in locations that would be difficult to access using a vertical lift.
For projects located on rough terrain where a boom lift is required, it’s possible to use a spider boom. This type of boom is fully mobile and is mounted on caterpillar tracks. When it gets to its destination, four supporting feet are deployed, providing additional stability whilst the boom is in use. Spider booms are lightweight, reducing the risk that they will get bogged down on soft or muddy ground.
This type of access equipment consists of a platform that’s mounted on a lift. Users can manoeuvre the lift into position, then deploy the platform vertically to the desired height. Vertical lifts are frequently used indoors in warehouses, for interior cleaning or maintenance work. As they’re usually used for indoor work, vertical lifts are powered by electricity. This makes them a green option, as well as non-polluting.
Generally, vertical lifts don’t extend to the height that a boom lift might. It’s common to use a vertical lift to extend upwards no more than five or six metres.
If you need to lift people and/or equipment higher than six metres, a scissor lift may be a suitable piece of access equipment. Designed to lift up to twelve metres (depending on the specification), the scissor lift can be used for both indoor and outdoor lifting. Outdoor scissor lifts may be diesel-powered – some are suitable for rough terrain.
Designed to move goods and materials rather than people, telehandlers are a good solution. A telehandler is similar in capabilities and design to a forklift truck but is fitted with a boom to lift goods vertically. It’s commonly used alongside standard forklifts to reach items stored high on warehouse shelves or to remove waste material following refurbishment or restoration work.
Although telehandlers look similar to cranes, in that they have a boom, they don’t have the reach that a crane can command. In addition, a telehandler can only lift two or three metric tonnes. In comparison, cranes may lift a weight in excess of 100 metric tonnes.
Powered access equipment enables people to work safely at height and provides a method of moving materials at height. Access equipment can be used anywhere that work at height is required, both indoors and out. Modern advances in access equipment enable safe working when the ground surface is uneven, as well as provide the capacity for workers to be lifted around the corner of a building or to some other spot that’s difficult to access.