Revised AS1657 Standard sets Major Changes on Walkways, Ladders and Platforms

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The revised Australian Standard AS1657 since the last update 21 years ago reflects changes in the industry and seeks to align current Work Health Safety (WHS) regulations and the National Construction Code (NCC). This Standard has a focus on greater safety for personnel who need to access areas for operating, inspection, maintenance and servicing purposes.

The four biggest changes to AS1657 Standard involve selection, labelling, guardrail testing and the design of fixed ladders. The most significant set of changes include design criteria, dimensions of rung spacing, mounting of cages, fixings to structures, inappropriate use of hand holds plus several other small issues. Over the 21 years since the standard was written, there has been an explosion in the sales of ‘cut to size’ ladders, which led to several safety-related issues.

The revised standard also mandates permanent labelling to verify compliance of installation with AS1657; identify the designer, fabricator, installer and certifier; and to provide effective product recalls of faulty equipment.

The AS1657 new standard aligns with AS/NZS 1170.1, requiring higher concentrated loads and line loads for guard railing systems. New tests for ladders and staircases have been introduced to align with the testing regime for portable ladders.

The new updates also address the slip resistance of walkways and an alternative test method for stairways other than structural calculation.This revision has provided manufacturers, designers, installers and inspectors in the Australian construction industry with a complete set of guidelines.

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