Different Types of Working at Height Equipment

Working at height can be carried out on a variety of different pieces of equipment. Depending on the site and works, multiple pieces of access equipment might be available for use. Each item will have their own necessary competencies and a different schedule of required inspections.


Scaffold on houseScaffolds are a common sight on construction sites. They provide a safe means of access to higher levels of a site and often will be used as a working platform. They also present a massive risk as they are huge structures and if a scaffold collapsed, it could cause fatal consequences for anyone on it as well as any passers-by.

In the UK, the Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) is a nationally recognised scheme that determines the competency for scaffolders. They have several different cards, like CSCS, which cover erecting and inspecting the scaffold system and are awarded after training courses.

After scaffolding has been built, it must be inspected by a competent person at an interval of no more than seven days or following any adverse situations like high winds or storms.

Tower Scaffolds

Tower scaffoldTower Scaffolds are smaller scale scaffold structures, often used inside a building to give workers a stable platform for working at height. They must be erected and inspected by competent people just like the larger scaffold structures.

In the UK, the Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturer’ Association (PASMA) are a nationally recognised organisation that train workers in how to build, dismantle and inspect tower scaffolds. Operatives who have completed their training will be awarded a PASMA card and after they have received a card, they will be able to download a certificate for their records.

Tower scaffolds must be inspected following assembly and then at an interval of every seven days.

Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs)

Mobile Elevating Work Platforms Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) are vehicles with platforms that can be elevated for working at height. Unlike scaffolds, they are not built on site so they must be operated and inspected by a competent person.

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) are an internationally recognised organisation that have approved training centres where workers are trained in how to operate MEWPs. Other IPAF approved course also cover service technicians, delivery drivers, managers/supervisors, demonstrators, installers and instructors. Operators receive the IPAF PAL (Powered Access Licence) card.

MEWPs should be inspected visually on a daily basis by a competent person with regular inspections and maintenance scheduled in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Under LOLER regulations they also require a six-monthly thorough examination.

Ladders and Stepladders

Worker holding a ladder over his shoulderLadders and stepladders are a common sight and are used for a variety of different works. They can be moved easily between floors and transported from site to site with very little difficulty. Like the MEWP, competencies for this are limited to users, inspectors with extra competencies offered to those who manage and plan the work.

In the UK, the Ladder Association is a nationally recognised organisation with approved training centres where workers can be trained in how to use, inspect and manage ladders and stepladders. They will also be issued a laddercard which can be checked on the Ladder Association’s website. Other working at height courses can also be used to prove competency.

Ladders should always be inspected before use in a pre-use check and detailed inspections should be carried out by the employer at fixed intervals, e.g. a week, and recorded.


It is important to know which competencies are necessary for each type of equipment, as well as how often they need to be inspected in order to ensure safety. Please see the table below for information about the equipment covered in this blog:

Table showing competencies required and inspection frequency for types of equipment

If you have any questions about inspecting equipment, access equipment or otherwise, and the training needed to use them, our team of consultants would be happy to help. Feel free to get in touch!

Written by Elizabeth Davis, SHEQ Trainee at WA Management.

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