The Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association (PASMA), the trade body representing the mobile access tower industry, has launched PAS 250, a new safety standard for the design of low-level work platforms.

Sponsored by PASMA, facilitated by BSI Standards and published under licence from the British Standards Institution (BSI), it sets out the minimum safety and performance requirements for these essential, everyday access products.

PASMA has observed that wherever there is high demand for a product and no existing standard in place, there is always the risk that some designs may not meet even the most basic of safety criteria, and these inferior products can be marketed and distributed freely, potentially contributing to the already concerning accident statistics for low-level work at height. PAS 250 addresses this issue and sets the standard for podiums and pulpits going forward.

According to PASMA, there is now no excuse for using low-level access equipment that jeopardises safety and puts users at risk. The specification comprehensively covers all low-level work platforms with one working platform and side protection, for use by one person with a maximum working platform height of under 2.5 metres.

Sponsoring PAS 250 is the final step in a three-point plan from PASMA to ensure that podiums have a consistent standard of safety.

PASMA’s managing director Peter Bennett said: “Our three-step plan involved creating a low-level training course and a guidance DVD to ensure that the people using podiums fully understood the need for safety at low levels. This new safety standard completes the plan by making the equipment itself as consistently safe as possible.”

Championed by PASMA’s technical committee, the standard was developed in consultation with the Association of British Certification Bodies, the Health & Safety Executive, Hire Association Europe, the Ladder Association and the UK Contractors Group.

The new specification introduces a specific requirement for stability and resistance to overturning. Other detailed requirements include specifications for materials, the design of the guardrails and access, the integrity of the mobility devices, the ability to fit toe-boards and requirements for the content of labels and user guides. These requirements are assessed through a series of tests that confirm podiums are in line with the specification.

PAS 250 has also led to other safety innovations being developed by manufacturers such as “anti-surf” devices preventing podiums from being moved while standing on the platform.

The PAS 250 specification is now available for companies to purchase through both the PASMA online shop and BSI online shop. Those looking to use compliant equipment should enquire about PAS 250 from their normal suppliers. More details on PAS 250 itself can be found on the PAS 250 FAQs section of PASMA’s website.