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Access machinery: Who holds responsibility?

22 May 2018

With today's tendency for buildings to be built taller, there is an increased need for personnel to work at height in order to maintain the fabric of the building. Given the increased complexity of these structures, access machinery is increasingly being used to provide safe access to the exterior of the buildings for maintenance purposes. Specialist Access Engineering & Maintenance Association (SAEMA) comments

Access machinery falls into the two following primary types:

•  Building Maintenance Units (BMU’s)  

•  Powered Cradles

The primary function of these machines is to provide a safe place of work to provide high level access for routine cleaning, light maintenance of façade finishes and the repair of façade elements.

Typically used at 3 to 6 month intervals, when considering the safe use, maintenance and thorough examination of BMUs and Powered Cradles, an often overlooked aspect is that of who holds responsibilities under the standards concerned. 

To understand this, we must look to BS 6037 - Code of Practice for the Installation & Use of Permanently Installed Access Equipment for the answers.

BS 6037 gives specific responsibilities to an individual - the Duty Holder - and defines this person as follows: Duty Holder – “a designated person with management responsibility for the safe use, maintenance and thorough examination of the suspended access equipment”.

Duty Holders include:

•  Employers

•  Self employed

•  Building owners

•  Employees

The Duty Holder has the following legal responsibilities in relation to the Suspended Access Equipment (SAE). They must ensure:

•  That it is safe and fit for the purpose for which it has been designed

•  That it is properly maintained and examined

•  That it is used by trained and competent operatives

  •  That proper records are kept including
    • Service reports
    • Test certificates
    • LOLER reports
    • Training certificates
    • O&M manuals

This effectively means that the Duty Holder must understand all the requirements of BS 6037. This is where the Specialist Access Engineering and Maintenance Association can help. 

SAEMA is the lead body in relation to SAE, and holds within its membership many industry experts. These experts have drafted several guidance notes which are freely available through the SAEMA website – www.saema.org/publications.

Of particular note in the case highlighted above is the following guidance note:

  • SAEMA Document 14005 - Guidance on the use of Permanent Installed Suspended Access Equipment (PISAE) 

This document (and the others that accompany it) gives simple but extensive information on the requirements of the standard, and will help those who are (or may be) Duty Holders to comply with the standards.

In conclusion, anybody who has SAE installed on a building that they control or occupy should take the time to read the guidance to understand what is required. SAEMA invites you to get in touch if you have any questions.