Are Ladders Becoming Obsolete?

Are Ladders Becoming Obsolete?

23rd August 2017

In times gone by, most workplaces had a ladder, even if it was just an average step ladder that was used for routine maintenance work such as changing light bulbs, reaching stuff on high shelves, etc.  Nowadays, nobody in the workplace here in the UK should climb a ladder unless they’ve had ladder safety training and the ladder has been maintained and inspected on a regular basis.  It seems at times as if we’re almost at the stage where ladders are becoming obsolete as we strive to provide safer solutions for gaining access to work areas that are difficult to reach. 

Public buildings such as libraries, council offices, etc. tend to have lots of ceiling lights which can need replacing on a regular basis as the bulbs or tubes burn out.  Whereas, in the not too distant past, a member of staff or maintenance worker would have just grabbed the nearest step ladder and changed the bulb, that’s not so easy nowadays due to health and safety regulations.  It’s generally the case that a maintenance team will be required to change a bulb, with personnel specifically trained in the safe use of ladders.  When the bulbs fail in remote buildings, such as community libraries, small offices, etc., the local authority will need to send out a team.  However, this is not a cost effective method of changing a light bulb, so it’s often left until several bulbs need changing before a team is deployed to do the job, leaving many areas in public buildings in gloom and darkness. 

Tree surgery is another area where the use of ladders is on the decrease.  It’s no longer acceptable for a tree surgeon to climb the tree to get the job done – health and safety regulations no longer allow this and alternative solutions are often necessary which has led to an increase in the types of safe access equipment available on today’s market.  There are so many different types of access equipment available, that it’s not particularly cost-efficient for a company to possess every type needed and this has resulted in the launch of businesses which offer specialised access equipment for hire.  Hiring access equipment in this way is an attractive option for smaller business owners here in the UK and we’re sure to see an increase in this type of activity in the future.

Stringent health and safety at work legislation is making the UK a safer place to work than ever before, but according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), falls from height are still one of the major causes of death and serious injury in the workplace.  HSE regulations require that employers or building owners who contract other to carry out work must ensure that the correct type of equipment is used for the task at hand.  While all this is making the UK safer and steadily decreasing the rate of serious accidents in the workplace, we can’t help but wonder if the ladder is on the verge of becoming an obsolete piece of kit.