1/07/2015 10:07 HRS

On Wednesday 24 June 2015 Stafford Borough Council was fined £20,000 after an incident on 16 July 2014 where Stafford Gatehouse Theatre employees were using a Tallescope which overturned causing the worker in the cage to suffer a fractured bone in his back.  There were only two workers involved and the Tallescope was being moved with a person in the cage. It is important to note that the Tallescope being used in this incident was a ‘Topdeck 50518’  which is a different model and design to the models 50512, 50518 and 50524 with telescopic extending ladders that are commonly used in theatres and which are dealt with in the ABTT ‘Code of practice for use of Tallescopes for working at height in theatres’.

Report of the prosecution of Stafford Borough Council:

A Tallescope would not be the first option for achieving a working at height solution and in the “Hierarchy of Access”  it is the last resort for activity at height lasting more than a couple of minutes.  However, it is the case that after a risk assessment the Tallescope may be identified as the appropriate working at height solution.  The ABTT ‘Code of practice for the use of Tallescopes for working at height in theatres’ provides clear recommendations on how a Tallescope may be moved with a person in the cage.  This prosecution does not change HSE’s position regarding the movement of occupied tallescopes which is set out at

The HSE strongly recommends that users follow this guidance and the system of work outlined in the ABTT Code of Practice when using the Tallescopes discussed therein.

The Code of Practice identifies that the requirement for moving an occupied Tallescope is that the stage is horizontal and level.   The Code of Practice reproduces the manufacturer’s instructions:

  1.  If it is intended to move a Tallescope with a person in the cage four stabilizers shall be deployed at all times;

a)      at least two technicians who have proven training will be present

b)      there shall be a supervisor who is not moving the Tallescope

c)       there shall be no obstructions along the route of the movement at stage level or overhead

d)      the stabilizers must be locked off just above the floor (not more than 10mm above the floor)

e)      the Tallescope must only be moved along its longest axis

f)       movement of the Tallescope shall be by pushing and pulling on the extended uprights on the base frames (trunions) and NOT the diagonals

g)      the Tallescope shall only be moved slowly and smoothly (not more than 0.5m per second/1mph)

h)      the Tallescope must be moved by at least two people, the technician pushing the Tallescope must confirm there are no overhead hazards

i)        the technician in the cage must maintain a firm hand hold whilst the Tallescope is being moved

j)        the technician in the cage shall instruct the technicians moving the Tallescope and the instructions acknowledged before movement occurs

k)      the castor brakes shall be applied before any work other than light work begins (light work is such as focusing luminaires, any work involving exertion or lateral pressure is no light work)

l)        the details of each job and the personnel must be recorded in the log book and be signed off by the trained person present.

It is also important to note that before a Tallescope is used there must be a rescue plan in place in order to cope with the retrieval of an operative who becomes incapacitated within the cage.

In summary the key points  for moving an occupied Tallescope are:

a)      the stage is horizontal and level

i.      the Tallescope is the 2011 (or later) year of manufacture model


ii.      the Tallescope has been fitted with a manufacturer’s upgrade kit comprising two additional outriggers (four in total), for 450mm push-pull posts and for non-lift brake castors; addition strengthening may also be required.

b)      A minimum of four personnel are available to carry out operations: one in the cage, one supervisor and two moving the Tallescope.

Copies of ABTT ‘Code of practice for the selection and use of temporary access equipment for working at height in theatres’ and ‘Code of practice for use of Tallescopes for working at height in theatres’ may be obtained from the ABTT website or by contacting the ABTT office on 020 7242 9200.