The function of the Access Towers and Ladders chamber of the IWH is to promote safe working at height on towers and ladders. This involves:


A mobile access tower is an effective and efficient method of accessing work areas up to a maximum of 8metres (outdoors) and 12metres (indoors). As a person working from a tower is working in a fall protected environment, fall arrest or fall protection equipment is not required. The type of access tower selected must be suitable for the work and must comply with SANS 51004:2009.

The standard covers:

Mobile access and working towers made of prefabricated elements –

Mobile access Towers are predominantly made of aluminium but towers with composite parts are now available in the market. All towers must be erected and dismantled by people who have been trained and are competent to do so. The 2 preferred methods used in erecting and dismantling towers are the 3 T (Through The Trap) or AGR (Advanced Guard Rail). Those using mobile access towers should also be trained in the potential danger and precautions required during use.

Access tower, provision and use, must be properly managed and include rigorous inspection arrangements. Key issues with towers are:

Should an access tower be required that is higher than 8m outdoors, or 12m indoors, it cannot be a mobile tower and a system design must be provided by the manufacturer.

The following SANS standards apply to the Access Towers Industry:

SANS 51004– Mobile Access and Working Platforms – to a height from 2.5 m to 12.0 m (indoors) and from 2.5 m to 8.0 m (outdoors).

Mobile access and working towers made of prefabricated elements – Materials, dimensions, design loads, safety and performance requirements

Related standards (BS & EN standards as international good practice) that also exist:

BS1139 Part 6 – Metal Scaffolding is the British standard which covers mobile access towers outside of the scope of EN1004 (similar to SANS 51004 above) but which use the same components

Examples are high level towers greater than 12m for internal use and 8m for external use, towers with cantilever platforms, towers less than 2.5m in height commonly referred to as room scaffolds, linked towers and high clearance towers.

BS 8620- Low Level Work Platform (LLWP) with one working platform with side protection, for use by one person, with a maximum working platform height of less than 2.5 m

The maximum working load of the LLWP is 150 kg.

The IWH has proposed the adoption of BS 8620 as a SANS


The most common types of portable ladders are step, single, extension and multi hinged. The most common materials used to make portable ladders are aluminium and composite, although steel and wooden ladders are still manufactured and used.

Portable ladders are a sensible, practical and safe option for light work of short duration (maximum 30 minutes) at height. The overriding principles are to be sure you use the right type of ladder and to know and follow the instructions on how to use it safely. Please refer to the GPN on safe use of ladders.

There is no requirement in the OHS Act for fall arrest equipment to be used when working from a ladder. Fall arrest equipment must not be attached to a ladder – see CR 10. (4)(c)(ii).

Ladders and Step ladders are covered in the General Safety Regulations 6 and 13A1-6 of the act. The entire section of the act needs to be read before implementation to ensure it is not misunderstood or not applied. The section on the use of 9m ladders, fixed ladders and extension ladder should specifically be consulted.

The following SANS standards apply to the Ladder Industry:

SANS 50131-1: Ladders – Part 1: Terms, types, functional sizes

Selection of ladder for applicable use

SANS 50131-2: Ladders – Part 2: Requirements, testing, marking

Manufactured, tested and marked according to the relevant standard

SANS 50131-3: Ladders – Part 3: User instructions

Used correctly as stipulated by the manufacturer according to the standard

SANS 50131-4: Ladders – Part 4: Single or multiple hinge-joint ladders

Describes the requirements, tests and marking of hinged combination ladders with one or several hinge joints

SANS 50131-6: Ladders – Part 6: Telescopic ladders

Specifies the general design features, requirements and test methods of telescopic ladders

SANS 50131-7: Ladders – Part 7: Mobile ladders with platform

Define terms and specifies the general design characteristics of mobile ladders with platform

Related standards (BS & EN standards as international good practice) that also exist:

BS EN 14183: 2003 Step stools

The European Standard specifies the requirements for step stools, stair type stools.

The IWH Professional Body will issue licenses to individuals for recognition to work as:

For Access Towers and Ladders related enquiries, please email any of the following:

Please click here to watch the video of the IWH’s Access Tower and Laddder Chamber. Watch video!
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