Commandments of Inspecting Fixed Access Systems: Ladders, Stairs, Walkways & Step Units

Commandments of Inspecting Fixed Access Systems: Ladders, Stairs, Walkways & Step Units

04th March 2020

Did you know that fixed access systems such as walkways, step units, fixed ladders, and stairs require routine inspection and maintenance after installation? Regular inspection of access systems is vital for enhanced workplace safety. Here you can find some of the commandments to pay attention to when inspecting your fixed access systems.

1.    Never Miss or Postpone a Scheduled Routine Inspection
Missing or postponing a scheduled inspection can lead to significant injuries, potential jail time, hefty fines, and irreplaceable damage to your reputation. Ensure that the ladders are sound and able to withstand weight and use. Check also whether the floor surfaces are properly cleaned and that there’s sufficient lighting in the area to prevent trips and falls. 

2.    Check if Installed Fixed Access Systems Adhere to Standards
Access systems should be installed securely to avoid preventable accidents and legal consequences. The assembly should be rigid and stable enough under normal working conditions to ensure the safety of your workers. If you don’t have a health and safety professional in your organisation, you may consider hiring one to access the systems and provide the necessary recommendations. 

3.    Ensure Fall Protection is in Place, Where Necessary
Appropriate fall protection systems should be installed where there’s a risk of a fall from heights of more than 6 feet. If there’s no fall protection, arrange for the installation of the same as soon as possible. Fall arrest ladder systems, for instance, allow the user to move along the entire height of the ladder without having to continually connect or disconnect the safety equipment. In the event of a fall, the protection system will immediately lock into position. 

4.    Assess if Conventional Staircases Would be More Practical Than Fixed Ladders
Conventional staircases are usually recommended for use in areas with a lot of footfall and traffic and often experience ongoing use by several employees. Your safety professional should assess the level of risk to workers using fixed ladders and whether conventional staircases would be more practical with less likelihood of accidents than fixed ladders. The HSE recommends that ladders should only be used for low-risk, short-duration projects and where the layout of the working area doesn’t allow the use of other more suitable safety equipment.    

5.    Ensure the Top Step is Level With the Platform
For fixed ladders and step units, the top step should be level with the platform. This reduces the height over which workers need to step hence minimising the risk of a fall. It also gives them an additional hold when they need to access the platform. 

6.    Conduct a Risk Assessment
You need to conduct a risk assessment during your inspection to determine the level of risk based on the likelihood of an accident and the possible severity of harm. This should guide you on the relevant fall arrest or protection systems to install. 

7.    Record Compliance or Non-Compliance
Once you have completed the inspection, you should record compliance or non-compliance using the datasheet of each system. The report will include the recommendation of any additional work that needs to be done to comply with the safety regulations. The data sheets will contain specific details to look at to determine compliance.