Design standards for towers and podiums

If you or your workers use tower scaffolds or podiums, you have a responsibility to provide equipment that’s safe and reliable. A simple way to do that is to ensure that it’s certified to a recognised design standard.

Standards tell us what materials, dimensions, design loads, safety and performance requirements these products should conform to. They are kept under review by committees of experts, who aim to ensure that safety is continually improving. Standards have an important role to play both in the safety of operatives and in helping manufacturers, suppliers and employers meet their legal obligations to provide safe products.

Quick reference guide

If you use, hire or own towers at home or at work, there are various standards you need to be aware of. Everyone designing, manufacturing, supplying, buying, hiring or using towers should make sure that it complies with one of these standards, or an international equivalent. 

Here’s a quick reference guide. If you aren’t sure which is the relevant standard for a tower you own, use or are thinking of buying/hiring, check our ultimate guide to towers and low level access equipment for help.

Standard Region Covers CURRENT VERSION Status
EN 1004-1 (previously EN 1004)
Europe & UK
Mobile access and working towers from 0m to 8m when used outdoors and 0m to 12m when used indoors
EN 1004-2 (previously EN 1298)
Europe & UK
Instruction manuals for mobile access and working towers
BS 1139-6
Tower scaffolds (towers outside the scope of EN 1004 but using EN 1004 components) e.g. towers on base plates, high level towers, cantilever towers, linked towers etc.
BS 8620 (previously PAS 250)
Low level work platforms (often called podiums)
NOTE: European “EN” standards are preceded with “BS” when published in the UK, e.g. BS EN 1004-1.

Spotting a safe tower

You can quickly spot a tower that meets the standard by checking for these features:
  • Marked with a label that confirms it meets the standard
  • Comes with certification that confirms it meets the standard
  • Purpose designed platforms with safe trapdoor entry and exit
  • Built in access for safe ascent and descent
  • Supplied with the correct size and quantity of stabilisers to prevent overturning
  • Have the correct quantity and number of guardrails with the correct gaps and dimensions to prevent a fall

Towers should be independently checked and certified by a recognised and accredited certification organisation such as Test & Research Centre, BSI or TUV. To be doubly sure that this is the case, ask your supplier for a copy of the certificate. If they cannot provide this, you should seriously consider buying from another source – a reputable supplier will be able to give it to you.

Spotting dangerous towers

You do not want a tower with any of the features below. If your tower has any of these features, you probably have a dangerous product on your hands:

  • Referred to as a ‘DIY tower’, ‘domestic tower’ or ‘H frame tower’
  • Made from painted or galvinised steel
  • Uses loose scaffold boards or DIY platforms which can break or move and don’t have trapdoors to provide safe access and egress through the inside of the tower
  • No built-in access to ensure safe ascent and descent
  • Not supplied with stabilisers to prevent overturning
  • Has frames with gaps or heights that would not prevent a fall

Buying or hiring a tower?

Check our guide first to make sure you pick a safe piece of equipment.

Read the PASMA guide to buying and hiring safe towers


My tower wasn’t designed to any of these standards. What do I do?

Towers or low level work platforms that don’t comply with any version of the relevant standard, i.e. EN 1004, BS 1139-6 or BS 8620, may not be strong or stable enough. They may not have enough components to be built safely and may not have dimensions which meet the legal requirements of the Work at Height Regulations. This includes towers that aren’t made to any standard as well as those made to old standards such as BS 1139-3 or HD 1004. Our advice is to replace them as soon as possible.

If you can’t establish and prove what standard your equipment complies with, then unfortunately we recommend you assume the worst and get them replaced. Otherwise, you will find it difficult to show that its’s safe work equipment. In the UK businesses have a legal responsibility to be able to do this.

You can continue to use equipment that complies with an older version of EN 1004, BS 1139-6 or BS 8620 as long as it’s in good working condition.

My tower was designed to an old version of a standard. Is that ok?

Yes. You can continue to use towers or low level work platforms that comply with an older version of the relevant standard, i.e. EN 1004, BS 1139-6 or BS 8620, as long as it’s in good working condition.

How can businesses ensure their towers always meet the standard?

We recommend that any businesses where towers are used follow these steps:

  • Review your company’s purchasing policy to ensure it specifies that any new equipment bought or hired must be certified to the latest version of the relevant standard, i.e. EN 1004-1, BS 1139-6 or BS 8620.
  • Make sure any existing equipment owned is certified to a current or previous version of the relevant standard, i.e. EN 1004, BS 1139-6 or BS 8620 (it doesn’t need to be the latest version).
  • Inspect any equipment you currently own to ensure it’s in good working condition. If a tower or low level work platform is certified to the correct standard and in good condition, there’s no need to replace it until it’s worn out or damaged.
  • When the time comes to replace a tower or if you want to buy or hire a new one, simply follow your updated purchasing policy. Read our guide to choosing a safe tower.
How can individuals (home DIYers) ensure their towers meet the standard?

The tower you use at home should be every bit as safe as one you’d use at work – the consequences of an accident are no less catastrophic whether it happens during DIY or on a construction site. Bones will still break and heads will still crack. That means choosing a tower that’s certified to the right standard.

  1. Ask the supplier or hire centre to provide proof that the product has been certified to the right standard. The standard should be marked on the tower too.
  2. Stay away from any tower that doesn’t have stabilisers, a built-in means of getting up and down, trapdoor platforms and double guardrails all the way round. It just isn’t safe.
  3. If you own a tower, inspect the components regularly to ensure everything is still in good working condition.
  4. Consider hiring a better quality tower for the duration of your project, rather than buying. Speak to a PASMA hirer/dealer member for advice.

Are standards a legal requirement?

We’re often asked if there’s a law about only using towers that meet the standards, and in the UK the answer is no. However, there is a legal requirement for employers to provide safe equipment for working at height in the workplace. In addition, the General Product Safety Regulations require all products, including those for domestic use, to be safe. Using towers that meet the appropriate standards is a recognised way of demonstrating that a tower is safe.

Do home DIYers need to bother about standards?

Yes. If you’re a DIYer, you still need to be sure that the equipment you’re using is safe. One way you can do that is to ensure that it meets the correct standards.

Where can I get copies of the standards?

Tower standards are published by national standardisation bodies across Europe. In the UK this is BSI, who make them available to buy on their website.

PASMA instructors benefit from free access to a library of tower-related standards from BSI Knowledge.

Is there a different standard for professional and domestic towers?

No. Safety requirements for people in their own home are the same as they are in the workplace.