By Jason Godfrey, General Manager
Roofs today tend to contain a variety of trip hazards and changes in roof level, making safe access difficult. More often than not we are finding that ‘off the shelf’ methods of safe access such as ladders or portable access platforms are not suitable and that bespoke solutions are required. Traditionally these were fabricated but times are changing and systems constructed from tubes and fittings are becoming more popular for access platforms and step-overs. So when it comes to bespoke access what is the best solution?
Previously the more common solution for bespoke access platforms and step-overs, fabricating structures can be a laborious process involving detailed preparation.
Site surveys are required so that drawings can be prepared. Sections are then fabricated off-site before being transported to site. These are then assembled at the location by a skilled contractor and sections welded together before being lifted up onto the roof.
Fabrication involves cutting which can breach the metal’s anti-corrosion properties, this is further compromised by the on-site welding. Zinc rich paint can be used to restore these properties, but more often than not it simply protects the external welded area, the tube could still be unprotected internally which will lead to corrosion over time. The problem here is that the corrosion won’t be evident until it’s too late which could mean the platform or step-over breaks or collapses when being accessed.
Modular tube & fitting structures
Tube and fittings on the other hand offer a far more versatile solution and are becoming more popular as the flexibility of the systems means they can be designed to provide safe access over pipework, plant equipment and conduits as well as between different roof levels.
All that’s required is a simple layout drawing to show where the uprights should be placed before the system can be constructed on site. Fittings are flexible so they can easily accommodate changes in level and direction or be constructed over obstacles on the roof.
Systems are modular in design which has the added benefit of ease and speed of construction. The structures are simply installed with a hex tool and tube cutters overcoming the need for specialist workers or equipment. As no cutting, welding, threading or bolting is required installation time is quick and the integrity of the coating isn’t compromised. Any changes in design can also be made easily on site if required.
Moving with the times
We are all constantly looking for more efficient and cost effective solutions. While fabricated systems still have an important role to place in the construction process, tube and fittings solutions are becoming more popular in the design of structures such as platforms and step overs. When a fast and flexible solution is required modular systems such as these certainly seem to be becoming the preferred solution.