Safety Through Design
When it comes to the things we use on a daily basis, our grandparents would be shocked at some of the new developments and technology. On the other hand, there are items that have barely changed over the years, especially some of the most basic, everyday things. Think about how many of our everyday things haven’t changed – knives and forks have remained the same for centuries, combs, sweeping brushes, to name just a few. Other everyday things seem to have changed beyond recognition – how many kids today know that a phone used to be stuck to the wall and had a round dial and a mouthpiece on a cord? What about videos – at one time they were the very latest technology, as were cassette tapes. Show one of today’s teenagers a treasured mixtape and they ask you where to plug in the earphones!
The humble ladder is another every day, basic item that has hardly changed since ancient times. Indeed, there is a ladder featured in a Mesolithic rock painting in the Spider Caves of Valencia, Spain, which is at least 10,000 years old. The painting shows two humans using a rudimentary ladder to reach a wild honeybee nest to gather the honey. The ladder barely changed for thousands of years and has been used all over the world, most being fabricated from materials that could be locally sourced such as wood, rope made from grasses and bamboo. Bamboo is still used for ladders and scaffolding in many parts of the world.
However, in recent years, ladders have been enjoying a bit of a design boom as we strive to make accessing heights safer. There are all sorts of accessories available that are designed to render ladders safer or to add convenient features to ladders to extend their use. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a ladder should only be used if the work being carried out is of short duration, typically 30 minutes or less.
This has resulted in new designs for ladders that make them particularly appropriate for specific purposes. There are roof ladders that make working on a roof safer and easier, step-ladders that are designed for small jobs around the home, offering an extra level of stability in their strong, A-frame design. Telescopic ladders are a great invention as they make transportation and storage of ladders much easier.
When it comes to working at height for more than 30 minutes at a time, the HSE advocates the use of scaffolding or work platforms, either stable work platforms or mobile ones. Some work at height equipment has been combined with a mobile vehicle, such as the MEWPs and cherry-pickers that we often see being used to maintain streetlights, prune trees and carry out other work more safely than could be achieved with a basic leaning ladder.
Here at Safety Fabrications, we design safety into all of our products, offering clients bespoke solutions to access workplaces at height in the safest manner possible. Our ladders, work platforms, walkways and step units are all designed to provide the safest solution possible when working at height.