We have put together some facts to help our customers with understanding, owning and operating trailer stages in the UK.
Firstly towing stages on the road is a minefield. All foreign (inc European) stages must have UK conformity. Its a common misconception that because we were in EU all European trailers were UK compliant. This is not the case and it is possible that a further VOSA inspection may be necessary before the trailer is legal on UK roads.
- GVW (gross vehicle weight) – the maximum potential weight of a vehicle with a full load.
- GTW (gross train weight) – the maximum potential weight of a vehicle with a full load and a loaded trailer
The law for towing is different in Europe to the UK. All trailers over 7m in length (not including drawbar) must be towed by a Goods Vehicle over 3500kg GVW. Not complying with this could not only lead to prosecution but in the event of a road accident your insurance may not cover you.
And regulation 7 of the Road Vehicles Construction and Use Regulations 1986,
A trailer (not being a semi-trailer or composite trailer) at least 4 wheels which is—drawn by a goods vehicle being a motor vehicle having
(a) maximum gross weight exceeding 3500 kg or
(b) agricultural trailer
Maximum length 12 meter
Any other trailer not being an agricultural trailed appliance or a
Maximum length 7 meters
Most vehicles over 3500kg GVW will need a Tachograph. An operators licence may also be required.
If you tow your (under 7m) trailer stage with a tow vehicle under 3500kg GVW, and the tow vehicle is not designed to carry goods ( passenger carrying 4×4 ) then because the stage is a piece of equipment and also not designed or intended to carry goods, although you will have a GTW in excess of 3500kgs you may not need to use a Tachograph. If the Tow vehicle is designed to carry goods (van or 4×4 pickup) or you carry goods in your trailer stage you may have to use a Tachograph. In most cases you will not need an operators license but you should check with your local VOSA office.
UK law says that all trailers up to 3500kgs, using Turntable front axles and built from 2014 now need to have powered brakes and not the overrun braking system. This can be Air brakes, Electrically operated brakes or Vacuum brakes. All of these systems can be retro fitted to tow vehicles. Although these larger trailers are amazingly stable on the road the European Vosa engineers decided that in a traveling jack- knife scenario the overrun braking system could become inoperative. The UK then decided to adopt this european directive.
A stage is a Temporary Structure and therefore comes under the laws of Building Control. This should be never taken lightly and all Health and Safety guidelines should be followed. Weight loadings, wind loadings and emergency plans must always be adhered to.
In most cases the stage structure will be used to lift equipment. This could be lighting fitted with the roof at low level or chain blocks fitted to the roof or pa wings at low level. The roof would raised with equipment in place and this is lifting. If you fit chain blocks to the structure after the roof is raised, to be able to lift equipment (pa, lighting truss, video walls), the stage then becomes a lifting accessory. In both cases the stage and its workings need to be inspected and certified annually to ensure its continued safe use and to comply with the Loler lifting regulations and Puwer regulations.
Siting and building the stage in a safe manner is important for not only for Health and Safety reasons but for you and your customers company image. Making sure your staff are properly trained and that training is documented, making sure your equipment is well maintained and within Loler inspection dates. Having an official sign off certificate that tells your customer that the structure has been erected to the manufacturers guidelines, to the structural calculations and is now fit for purpose and ready to be used. If a stage is on site for a long period it may be necessary to re-inspect the structure and sign it off again.
If your stage manufacturer tells you that your stage is safe up to 18 m/s winds (40mph) how are you or your customer going to measure this ? If you can measure it, its no good shouting when it gets to 18m/s because quite a few things need to happen now and the stage is just about to turn over. How will you or your customer safely remove the side curtains when the safe working limit is approached. Having a plan in place with guidelines for your customers to follow with regard to increasing and gusting winds is of most importance.
You may find this extensive CDM document helpful.