Safe Access All Areas

James Parker, ADF editor, spoke to Access 360’s MD James Fisher on how its portfolio of brands provide crucial expertise for architects on specifying safe access within all areas of a building

supplied a wide range of products – from roof access hatches to smoke vents and access doors. James says his tenure at the firm has


been a “journey”. It’s led him to now oversee- ing the portfolio of brands that comprise Access 360. As the name suggests, Access 360 covers a wide spectrum of access require- ments. It brings together the established, and complementary brands, of Bilco UK, Profab Access and Howe Green – roof, riser door and floor access specialists respectively. Access 360 has strong branding and an informative new website that retains the individual brand identities. James’ priority is “engaging with architects”. He believes it is critical to ensure architects are fully aware of their role in ensuring correct design and speci- fication when it comes to access otherwise it could result in a contractor making “a price- led decision”. Simply put, “If the architect doesn’t specify, and the contractor doesn’t select the right product, the client could get a health and safety issue.”

ames Fisher arrived at Bilco UK 19 years ago. The company had already been in existence for over 10 years and

Three brands under one umbrella Bilco UK was established when the Manual Handling regulations were coming into force. Specifiers faced the challenge of a legal requirement to ensure that personnel could safely access areas like roofs as well as service voids under floors. For Bilco UK this was simply another dimension to the wide range of considerations required for correct specification. In 2016 Tyman plc, a leading international

supplier of engineered components to the door and window industry, acquired Bilco UK. A year later the opportunity arose to acquire Howe Green Ltd. Over its 36 year history Howe Green has

grown from supplying access covers for supermarkets to being specified for major projects, including London Underground, airports, and Phase 2 of Battersea Power Station’s redevelopment. 2018 saw the acquisition of Profab Access.

Profab manufacture a range of bespoke products designed to prove safe access to any services going up through the building, including concealed riser doors and wall and ceiling access panels. Fire safety, and the fire rating of products,

has come under intense scrutiny post- Grenfell, including around the interpretation of Building Regulations. Profab has always

sought to differentiate itself in this area. James says the firm put “a lot of effort” into its natural smoke ventilators’ compliance, and decided to put its 4000 series riser doors through third party testing. As a result, it’s “the only manufacturer of concealed steel riser doors that has Certifire accreditation, tested from both sides”. James explains: “We have always been proactive where specification is concerned, whether through the CPD network, NBS or BIM models. Access points must be designed and not just be a shape on a plan. There is a need to understand what the point is being used for and frequency of use. Roofs, walls and floors have become the location for a much wider range of building services. More frequent access for servicing puts an even higher focus on safety.” As Access 360 harnesses the distinct

strengths of its three brands going forward, it is well placed to offer trusted expert advice on the key requirements for achieving safe access on a wide range of projects. At a time when the need for better specification and accountability are being put under scrutiny, James affirms that the company is “about guiding people to the right solution.”

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