by Frederike Berg
Types of scaffolding stairs and stair towers
The good old ladder would probably win the race for the easiest way to access scaffolding or other work areas at height. But when it comes to safety, ergonomics and comfort, other access solutions are ahead. Read on to learn more about three of the most popular stair solutions in scaffolding, their key features and applications.
Scaffold platform stairs
Scaffold platform stairs are the more ergonomic alternative to scaffold ladders. Usually, platform stairs are integrated into the scaffolding with a scaffold bay in front of them. This makes it safer to climb up and down the scaffold and does not limit the utilisation width of the scaffold as is the case with a ladder.
Construction stair towers
The construction stair tower is probably the next upgrade from platform stairs. They are mainly used when a large amount of material needs to be transported on the scaffold, many people work on the scaffold at the same time, or when all scaffold levels need to remain free for the jobs to be carried out on them.
With a load capacity of 2 kN per m2, construction stair towers are in load class 3 and consist of a frame construction, e.g. made of modular scaffolding material, and prefabricated stair elements. Construction stair towers can be adapted to a wide range of applications and can be extended or customised with special components, for example.
Public access and emergency stair towers
While construction stair towers are mainly used on building sites and for industry applications, where they are only used by trained staff, stair towers used by the general public have different requirements. Here, a distinction must be made between public access stair towers and emergency stair towers.
What is a public access stair tower?
Public access stair towers are needed when large numbers of people come together at the same time. For example, they are used as part of bridging solutions to lead public traffic over obstacles during roadworks or over rails at train stations, or as a stairway solution at large events such as concerts or trade fairs.
What is an emergency stair tower?
Emergency stair towers can become real lifesavers as they are used in public areas to provide escape, emergency or firefighting stairs. Their main function is therefore not only to make certain areas accessible, but above all to provide a safe means of escape in the event of a fire or other emergency. So, it is important that emergency stair towers meet certain requirements, which depend largely on local regulations, but also on their intended use and location.
Emergency stair towers are often located outside of
- Public buildings such as schools and hospitals
- Commercial buildings such as department stores
- Residential buildings where, for example, renovation work is blocking the original escape route and a new one is needed
If an emergency stair tower is used in a meeting place, such as a sports stadium, cinema or concert hall, it must also comply with the relevant venue regulations.
Some of the most important features of an emergency stair tower are summarised below:
- Load capacity of 5.5 kN/m2 or 7.5 kN/m2 with even load distribution (according to local venue regulations)
- No tripping hazards so that the danger zone can be left quickly and safely
- Non-slip surfaces, e.g. grating steps with safety treads and a mesh size of 30 mm x 30 mm
- Childproof railings and stair edges
- At least one continuous handrail
- Safety treads so that the stair tower can be used all year round even in rain, snow and ice
Which stair solution is best for your next project?
While platform stairs are great for small to medium sized projects where the width of the scaffolding should not be restricted, stair towers are the ideal access solution for larger projects where, for example, large quantities of material are transported on the scaffold.
Read more about scaffold access and stair solutions in our scaffolding blog.
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