Access forum

Published:  08 July, 2011


This year’s Access Industry Forum (AIF) Working at Height Knowledge Base, Demonstration Area and Information Centre delivered thought-provoking panel discussions, powerful presentations and practical solutions across a wide range of working at height topics. The event took place at the Safety & Health Exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham. PWE reports.


Each day in the Knowledge Base, motivational and behavioural safety speaker, Jason Anker, delivered a presentation based on his own experiences following a serious fall from height. Now paralysed from the waist down, his message was very powerful and persuasive.

Nigel Bryson OBE for the British Safety Council; Barry Holt, director of policy and research at IIRSM; Roger Bibbings MBE on behalf of RoSPA and John Holden, immediate past president of IOSH, joined Nick Johnson from HSE and Peter Bennett from the Forum to discuss and debate ‘How to achieve the Holy Grail - no more working at height accidents, ever!’ David Thomas, safety, health and environment director at William Hare Limited chaired the discussion. David was formerly principal specialist inspector of health and safety (construction) at HSE.

Other Knowledge Base highlights included the panel discussion ‘Design v Cost v Safety’ featuring representatives from the Forum, the Association for Project Safety (APS), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and ‘Maintaining effective work at height policies in a touch economic climate’ with the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF), the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and the UK Contractors Group (UKCG).

Making a welcome return to the Knowledge Base was the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). A regular contributor to AIF events - represented on this occasion by Nick Johnson, a senior policy advisor in the Slips, Trips and Falls Team at Bootle - HSE discussed falls from height trends across different sectors; the factors that contribute to these incidents; gave guidance on managing the risks, and spotlighted some of the initiatives that HSE is currently working on to support duty holders in their risk management.

Alongside these keynote sessions, member organisations of the Forum talked about the latest developments in their respective specialisations. PASMA, the trade association representing the mobile access tower industry, explained the findings of its year-long review into fall protection methods, and the Ladder Association made clear the continuing role and relevance of ladders and stepladders in the workplace and the growing recognition for the need for professional ladder training.

IPAF described the latest developments in powered access and asked the question ‘Are your MEWPs safe?’ and NASC spoke about the recent developments in scaffolding guidance including SG4:10 and the new TG20:08 interactive guide.


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