PASMA Course & Scaff Tags

by Editor on March 29, 2015

Having recently attended a PASMA course I’m now officially able to build and inspect access towers. Do you hold a PASMA card and are you fitting Scaff Tags to the towers that you erect?


The working at height limitations of ladders means that electricians are one of the trades most likely to use portable access towers.  To be safe, it’s essential that the towers you climb are suitable for purpose and built correctly.

Buy- PASMA Scaff Tags



Health & Safety regulations state that:

The ‘Work At Height Regulations’ require that mobile access towers are inspected after assembly and before use by a competent person and that a written report of that inspection is completed and handed over to the person in charge- before going off duty.

Use Scaff Tags

Scaffold or PASMA Tags (commonly known as Scaff Tags) are required to be fitted to any tower to indicate that it’s been erected and inspected by a qualified competent person and is safe to use. Most tags have a glossy finish and can be re-used by removing the ink with a cloth and white spirit.

The key points for you to know are:

  • Have you followed the manufacturers instructions and built the tower correctly?
  • Has someone else built it correctly?
  • Always fit a Scaff Tag to any tower that you’ve built.
  • If you’re leaving site, consider fitting a red (do not use) Scaff Tag to prevent anyone else from using the tower.
  • Tip-  Fill in the tag and take a picture of it tied to the tower. This will log proof of the time and info. Then email the pic to the person concerned and you’ll both have a documented record to refer back to.
  • It may be best to dismantle the tower if you’re leaving site for more than a day. This is because, as the  installer, you’ll be responsible if anyone else climbs up falls from it. And who know what parts may be removed in your absence!

PASMA Course
On the PASMA course we spent the morning being taught about working at height, the regs governing health & safety and a lot about constructing towers. After passing the multiple choice paper exam we were then allowed to progress on to the practical ‘hands on’ part in the afternoon.
In the next session we were instructed how to build two types of typically used access towers using two methods. Each method enabled us to erect the tower without having to stand on an unguarded platform- ie. a platform without guard rails. These methods obviously greatly reduced the chances of falling and made perfect sense. Anyone who stood on an unguarded platform would have immediately failed the course.

Safe Tower Erection
The first build was of a standard double platform width access tower. The key to safely erecting this tower was to use the 3T method- Through The Trapdoor.  This involved installing the bottom platform within easy reach (from the ground) and then installing guard rails above the platform whilst still sitting on the platform with legs ‘through the trapdoor’. This method complies with the rules of never standing on an unguarded platform and makes things a lot safer and secure for the person working at height.

The second build was of an advanced guard rail type of tower.  At first this seemed more complicated than the previous one but once we were shown how it all went together it turned out to be a lot quicker and safer to erect.

Faulty Towers
Our instructor, Gary at Euro Towers, told us of many instances of where he had visited sites to find that towers had been wrongly built. These dangerous cases were normally caused by ignorance and involved by not using all of the parts supplied- ie. wheels, braces, guards, platforms, toe boards and outriggers still piled up on the ground next to the tower being used. Often the towers weren’t level or built on a stable base and sometimes were even upside down. Many of these were on strictly controlled H&S sites and with no PASMA tags in place.

I originally felt the need to attend this PASMA course was somewhat unnecessary as I’ve used and built many portable access towers over the years. But now I feel that I’m up to speed about the building process and am glad to be aware of the requirements and documentation, not least of which is the need to fix Scaff Tags every tower that I build in the future.

If your work involves the use or erection of an access tower, then I’d strongly recommend you to get PASMA card qualified for the type of tower you are likely to build. And if you are using a tower that’s been erected by someone else it would be well worth being able to judge for yourself whether it’s been put up correctly. And always look at the info and the date on the Scaff Tag before you climb up!

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