Avoid Lending Ladders

Avoid Lending Ladders

07th August 2017

It’s often the case that lending equipment like ladders and similar tools can put contractors, employers or staff at risk so it’s something that needs careful consideration.  When a contractor arrives on site and needs to use a ladder, the obvious thing is to just hand over the ladder without thinking too deeply about it.  Without the ladder, work would need to be stopped whilst the contractor hires or buys a suitable ladder for the task at hand.  This will cause delays which could result in problems between your company and the contractors in question.

 If the contractors ask to borrow a ladder to access a specific work area, it’s tempting to just hand over one of your ladders and let them use it.  However, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as the employer, you are responsible for the safety of everybody working on your site but it is the contractor’s employer’s responsibility to provide them with the correct equipment to do the job.  By offering your own equipment, you’ve taken away their employer’s opportunity to ensure that the equipment they are using is suitable for the task, is in a safe condition and that the workers are trained in using it.  This means that you are taking on responsibility for workers who are employed by somebody else!

The risks involved with taking on this responsibility were clearly demonstrated in a case a few years ago in which a contractor suffered a fractured skull and nerve damage after falling from a ladder and between the decks of a client’s boat.  The owner of the boat had provided the contractor with a ladder which was unsafe and unsuitable for the task at hand and was prosecuted for the injury! 

In an ideal world, a competent contractor would not put you in this type of position or you would have enough time to delay the work while the contractor procured the correct type of ladder.  However, if you do find yourself being asked to lend ladders, equipment or tools, there are some issues you can take into consideration to make sure that you don’t face a similar problem to the hapless boat owner.

·         Make sure that you are personally confident that the ladder you intend to lend is in brilliant condition and is suitable for the task at hand.  Keep a ladder checklist or log to show that the ladder has been properly inspected and certified by a competent person who has had the necessary training.

·         Make sure that the contractor inspects the ladder too and get them to confirm this in writing – you can ask them to co-sign the ladder checklist from the inspection you carried out.

·         Confirm with the responsible person at the contracted business (usually the site manager or supervisor) that they are happy for the lending of the ladder to go ahead.

Lending ladders really should be avoided wherever possible as it may put you and your company at risk of prosecution which could have serious consequences for your business.