Domestic Ladder Injuries - Keep Yourself Safe at Home
It seems that spring has finally sprung here in the UK, although we know that we can’t guarantee great weather all of the time (or even most of the time) due to the vagaries of the great British climate. The milder weather means that more outdoor work will be undertaken in the coming months as we all start preparing our outdoor spaces for the summer. Hedges will start to need trimming and the drier weather gives us the opportunity we need to undertake all of the minor repair and renovation work on the exteriors of our homes. Many of the repairs will involve working at height at some point as we clear our gutters and check the state of soffits, fascia boards and roof tiles after the battering they take over the winter.
While you may not think as a homeowner that you’re working at height, you need to think again about this. The UK Health and Safety Executive defines working at height as “work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury”. Furthermore, when using a ladder in the workplace, there’s a legal requirement to carry out a risk assessment and that if a task requires you to work on a leaning ladder for more than 30 minutes at a time, then it’s recommended that alternative access equipment is used. When working at height in a domestic setting we tend to cheerfully dig out the only ladder we own and scoot up there to get the job done, no matter how long it takes.
We tend not to think of the risks involved when we’re working on our homes and gardens and we don’t take the necessary precautions that would be legally required in the workplace. Statistics show that more accidents happen in the home than anywhere else and around 6,000 deaths a year are a result of a domestic accident with falls being the most common of all.
Buying a domestic ladder may seem like a good idea but they usually have a limited carrying capacity of around 15 stone (95 kg) and are fabricated from lightweight materials. This makes them less robust for regular use and not many of us actually carry out a risk assessment every time we get the ladder out to change a lightbulb or perform other common household tasks. Those of us who only ever use a ladder in the home are probably not aware of basic ladders safety – this is something we’ve already covered here at Safety Fabrications.
When people work at height as part of their job they are provided with all the necessary information and equipment necessary to minimise the risk of a fall. This includes industrial safety ladders, MEWPs (mobile elevated work platforms), scaffolding, mobile access towers, working platforms, guardrails, fall protection posts and personal protective equipment (PPE). This shows just how risky working at height is yet we think nothing of popping up a ladder to clear the gutters on our homes or leaning a ladder against a tree to do some pruning work.