Working at height should not put operators at risk, and the right access equipment ensures that transport maintenance teams can reach all areas of vehicles quickly and safely.

AV Birch Engineering (Access Equipment Division) designs, builds and installs bespoke access and platform solutions to ensure that transport operators can deploy personnel without putting them at risk.

With a host of engineering and manufacturing specialities across our divisions, working with complex machinery in a number of industrial settings has enabled our teams to understand the requirements of customers who manage challenging depot environments.

Take the rail industry. The UK boasts a great safety record – on and off the tracks, and in manufacturing, maintenance and operational areas.

No injury is acceptable, and being able to complete vital work in safe, comfortable and secure settings also boosts productivity. That’s how it should be.

Accessing complex railway vehicles

The UK’s train fleets have changed considerably over the years. So, too, has the way people can be expected to access and work on these vehicles.

In the days of steam, safety regulations were very different. In fact, they hardly existed until the 1970s. Then the 1974 Health and Safety at Work act was put in place. It was the beginning of a new way of working, where avoidable injuries were no longer tolerated.

The arrival of diesel engines shifted thinking, and the way the government and organisations looked at safety also changed beyond all recognition. Then the need to achieve cleaner air targets hastened the move to electric. Less pollution and reducing the reliance on fossil fuels were also goals.

The result has been the introduction of complex and potentially dangerous electrical fittings – on the top of rail vehicles. Hard to reach, awkward to service, often heavy and difficult to remove and transport. The same is true along the tracks, where engineers must maintain high-voltage lines in all weathers. Not easy.

Depot staff must also consider windscreen replacements, wiper changes, servicing air-conditioning units on train roofs, plus a host of other vehicle modifications that need a safe way to reach them.

What does rail depot access equipment offer?

With AV Birch you get flexibility and bespoke solutions that work. Vehicle design, shape and size changes from model to model, so getting a one-size-fits-all solution is rarely possible.

When employees attempt to use equipment that is not fit for purpose, that’s when accidents, damage and errors can occur.

Working alongside a vehicle should be done on a safe and stable platform, one that’s easy to anchor and simple to move along when required. Understanding and operating the equipment should be straightforward.

Overhead gantries and platforms should be secured where appropriate and retractable when necessary. AV Birch creates fixed or modular access solutions that are fit for purpose.

Let’s not forget pit area platforms, ladders and door bars – all access considerations that help to make a working shift safe.

What you get are more robust constructions, made to measure fittings, and easy to assemble platforms that satisfy logistical requirements and budgets.

The message is safety first. It has to be. Only then can railway professionals across UK depots safely maintain the fleets that keep passengers moving around the country.