Low-level Access Equipment Toolbox Talk

This blog can be delivered to your staff as a Toolbox Talk. If you require a specific Toolbox Talk for your workplace, please feel free to get in touch.

Objective: To outline some of the hazards that come with using low-level access equipment and how to use them safely.

Target: All operatives on site.

Risk assessment steps - identify hazards, assess the risks, control the risks, record your findings, review the controlsFolding and adjustable trestles

Typically speaking, guard rails cannot be fitted to foldable and adjustable trestles, so the use of these should be avoided where possible. These should only be used if a risk assessment has been completed to show that they are suitable for use and must detail why a trestle without guard rails is being used for the works. These should only be used for light work and for short periods of time.

Modern trestle systems

Trestle systems are similar in usage and appearance to a low-level scaffold platform. These systems should be safe and stable when in use. There must be a tied, secured ladder available for access to and from the trestle. Guard-rails and toe-boards must be fitted to these systems. Brick-guards should be fitted to these systems if there is a risk of tools or materials falling onto someone below. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions or information manual to ensure the boards are supported at the correct distances. Operatives should be aware of the weight restrictions of the system before loading the trestle with materials.

It should be noted that some older systems do not have many of these required safety features and so their use should be avoided where possible.

Podium steps and hop-ups

A commonly accepted replacement for stepladders are podium steps. These provide a safe place to work and can be manoeuvred easily. It is important for operatives to be trained and informed of their limitations, with emphasis on overreaching, surfing, locking wheels and the use of stabilisers if they are fitted. Surfing is the act of moving the platform whilst someone is standing on it. Although formal training is not required to assemble these, it is suggested that these are treated similarly to stepladders or scaffolding, and should be inspected for damages before and after use.

Hop-ups are small, flat platforms that provide extra height up to a maximum of 600mm. A risk assessment must detail that there is no way to carry out the work safely other than the use of a hop up prior to their use. This is due to the lack of guarding and protection that can be attached to them. Hop-ups should only be used on firm and stable ground with a sufficient risk assessment in place.

Infographic about how hop ups must be used as described in the text


If you have any questions about the contents of this Toolbox Talk, do not hesitate to contact us – our team would be happy to help you with any queries. We also offer a Risk Assessment online training course, suitable for all workers involved in developing a risk assessment and/or enforcing procedures in the workplace – this course can help offer insight into how to develop and/or understand the risk assessments necessary for using low-level access equipment.