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Designing industrial walkways and access: The needs to knows

Feb 5, 2019, 19:28 PM by Carli Barnes

There's a lot to think about when designing an industrial walkway.

These site features balance safety with providing efficient access around your site, allowing the movement of people and materials to the places they need to be.

Here we'll tell you everything you need to know about creating an industrial walkway that meets your requirements, as well as those of the law.

AS 1657:2018 contains the requirements for designing and installing walkways.

Walkways and Australian Standard 1657:2018

Australian Standard (AS) 1657:2018 lays out the expectations for ladders, stairways, fixed platforms and walkways. It's one of the industry's most referenced compliance frameworks, and includes the expectations for everything from design through to installation.

The Standard was updated last year and, while most of the changes were minor, it's worth remembering that the contents of this document are subject to change. Keeping up with its requirements is the only way to ensure that you're doing everything you can to protect your staff in the eyes of Australian law.

When it comes to designing an industrial walkway, there are several explicit requirements made in the Standard:

1. Slip resistance

Between 2003 and 2015, slips, trips or falls led to the deaths of 386 Australian workers, according to Safe Work Australia. Furthermore, 56 per cent of these incidents were caused by environmental factors including poorly designed or maintained walkways. 

The risks associated with walkways are increased further when an incline is involved. To help counter this AS 1657:2018 has two important stipulations:

  • Walkways that traverse a slope: When a walkway is positioned across a slope, as opposed to along it, the maximum permitted incline is 7°. The ideal angle, however, is only 3°.
  • Walkways along a slope: While you're able to use a walkway on a slopes ranging from 0°-20°, those on inclines over 10° will require cleats to aid traction.

There are established cleat spacings that correspond to grade of incline:

  • Slopes between 10° and 15° - Cleats should be spaced every 45 centimetres (cm).
  • Slopes between 15° and 18° - Cleats should be spaced every 40 cm.
  • Slopes between 18° and 20° - Cleats should be spaced every 35 cm.

When deciding on walkway cleats, it's also important to consider surface profiles. Depending on how serious you deem the risk of slipping, you may wish to opt for a serrated surface pattern over a plain alternative. Webforge can supply 10 millimetre square welded cleats at whatever interval you require, covering you for all walkway applications.

2. Guardrails 

Guardrails provide an excellent third point of contact for workers using walkways where there's a risk of falling - and this doesn't just mean where extreme heights are involved. Half of all workers killed in falls between 2003 and 2015 were working at heights of three metres or less, and so while risk of serious injury does increase with height, you should still conduct a full risk assessment when operating on any new site. 

AS 1586:2018 has a number of specific requirements when it comes to guardrails:

  • Width: The minimum required width of an industrial walkway is 60 cm, and the distance between guardrails shouldn't be shorter than 55 centimetres.
  • Height: Guardrails must stand at least 90 cm from the walkway surface
  • Guardrails on sloping roofs: A third rail is advised when the guardrail is situated on the edge of a roof with a slope of 12° or more. A guardrail should also be used when the area adjacent to the walkway is on an incline of 12° or more.
Guardrails are particularly important for protecting staff using walkways on sloping roofs.

3. Load bars

When your staff are working at height you need to know that a walkway is going to bear their weight, as well as that of any equipment or materials they may be using. 

Depending on the support orientations of your walkway, load bars can either span across or along the flow of traffic. Finding the perfect panel length isn't only important for safety, it can also lead to significant cost reductions. Webforge's project management team can work with you to ensure your walkways are fully compliant, without breaking the bank.

4. Drainage

Ensuring that your walkway is able to drain properly is crucial for both worker protection, and for its usability. 

The build up of liquids and detritus such as leaves and soil can make walkways slippery, and impede the movement of people and materials. However, when deciding upon grating sizes to allow drainage, you must remember the 15 mm ball test. This element of the Australian Standard dictates that overhead walkways should prevent the passage of objects up to 15 mm in order to protect those passing underneath from injury. 

With these essentials in mind, you should be well on your way to designing an industrial walkway that will keep your workers safe, and your site compliant. For more information on how Webforge can help you do this, get in touch with our team today. 

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