Cover of Providing Safer Access for Bridge Inspections
Providing Safer Access for Bridge Inspections
  • Publication no: ABC-AMM006-11
  • Published: 31 October 2011

Bridge management is a comprehensive process linking bridge inspection and appraisal with community needs and funding sources, to plan, prioritise, fund, and procure the operation, maintenance, rehabilitation, upgrading and replacement of existing bridge assets. The majority of these tasks require regular access to the bridge so we need to consider how we can provide safer access to bridge sites for people undertaking inspections, maintenance, design and asset management activities. Access to bridges via existing natural and man-made embankments could potentially pose a safety risk due to hazards associated with steep and slippery banks and/or loose materials. As there is no Australian Standard that is directly and completely applicable to this situation of bridge access, Main Roads Western Australia (MRWA) has developed ‘Design Guidelines for Access Requirements at Bridge Abutments’ and accompanying standard drawings for bridge access ways. In some locations it was also recognised that transportable temporary stairs may be an access option in their own right or may provide a suitable start for connection to a more permanent system. No proprietary transportable stair system was available worldwide so MRWA scoped, designed and manufactured fully adjustable, lightweight and durable stairs to suit various terrain situations. This paper describes the approach MRWA adopted to develop guidelines to be used at any bridge site to assess the need and level of intervention required to achieve safe access. It also details the design methodology and shows the solutions adopted for both permanent access ways and transportable temporary stairs.