Ladder Safety Month – Week Four
March is National Ladder Safety Month, both here in the UK and across the Pond in the USA. Ladder Safety Month will be staging a series of initiatives to demonstrate that ladders, podiums and other access related products can be the safest method of working at height. As long as the risk is assessed correctly and the most appropriate product for the task at hand is chosen and used correctly, then using a ladder should not present any problems.
As we said in our first article of this series, each week during the month of March we’re going to publish a more detailed article focusing on the specific safety topic of the week and this week, we’re going to take a look at Ladder Training and Inspections.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR 2005) require that anybody involved in work at height, including the planning and organising of the work, must be competent. That means they should have the necessary experience and/or training to identify any risks and carry out the work in a safe manner. Any training and experience should include familiarity with the equipment being used. Any worker who is undergoing training must be supervised by a competent person.
Whilst there is no legal obligation to obtain a qualification, many employers now view formal training as an indication of competence. The relevant qualification depends on the task the worker is asked to perform and the equipment chosen with which to complete the task. When it comes to ladders and stepladders, a competent person can deliver the training which must involve hands-on training and supervision. There are several companies which offer formal ladder use training, including the Ladder Association which offers the following courses:
- Ladder and Stepladder User Course
- Ladder and Stepladder Inspection Course
- Working with Steps and Step Stools Course
When it comes to inspection of ladders and work at height equipment, the WAHR 2005 regulations state that employers must ensure the safety of work equipment and ensure that it is not used after installation or assembly unless it has been inspected. Any employer is legally obliged to ensure that health and safety conditions are maintained and that work equipment is inspected and that the results of the inspection are recorded until the next inspection is recorded.
An employer selecting work equipment to be used in work at height should select work equipment for work at height which is appropriate to the nature of the work to be carried out and the foreseeable loadings.
There are two methods for inspecting ladders:
- Detailed visual inspections should be carried out on a regular basis by a competent person (these inspections will be outlined in the instruction manual from the manufacturer of the equipment).
- A pre-use check should always be carried out before beginning work and then repeated every time there is a change – such as a ladder being moved along to a new area or the ladder being dropped.
Use the following checklist which is approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE):
- Stiles must be in good condition and not bent or split
- The feet of the ladder should not be damaged, worn, dirty or missing
- Make sure rungs are not bent, loose or missing
- Ensure that the locking bars work properly and are not damaged, worn or bent
- Make sure treads are not worn, slippery or contaminated
- Platforms on stepladders should be in good condition, not buckled or split
- Steps on stepladders should be checked and fixings not loose.