Fixed Access Ladders - How To Stay Up To Date With Current Legislation

Fixed Access Ladders - How To Stay Up To Date With Current Legislation

13th May 2014

When is a ladder not a ladder?  Sound like a silly question?  Well, there are ladders of all types available, including fixed access ladders.  These fixed access ladders are usually only used for access and cannot be used as work platforms.  Fixed ladders are permanently installed to offer access to a particular area where work has to be carried out on a regular basis.  They are generally used to provide access to the tops of silos, tanks and roofs.
Where fixed access ladders are more than 9 metres tall, then a rest platform needs to be provided while fixed ladders more than 3 metres tall will need to have a fall arrest system fitted to decrease the risk of accidents and injuries.  Fall arrest systems are usually some sort of safety cage or hooped system and will need to be of a specific shape and design that is strength tested to ensure that they are up to the job of preventing a fall.

However, safety hoops on a fixed access ladder system are not as effective as you may think.  Research funded by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found that hoops could actually compromise the effectiveness of a fall arrest system, so the jury is still out on whether hoops are a good idea.  Business owners are being urged not to remove these hoops because they may still contribute to general user safety by providing psychological benefits.  The best way to make sure that users are safe on a fixed access ladder is to use a personal fall arrest system with a hooped ladder.  Users should always wear a helmet when using these types of access systems and there should be some sort of rescue plan in place to reduce the risks involved.

Nowadays, any fixed access ladder being installed will need to comply with the current industry standards.  The system will need to be specifically designed for the tasks at hand and made from the appropriate materials.  Any business or company that already has fixed access ladders in place will need to check that they are still considered safe and comply with current safety regulations.  Recent updates to legislation could mean that many of the fixed access ladders in the UK are out of date.  This means that they will need modification or replacement to ensure that they offer the levels of safety required.  The legal requirements covering fixed access ladders are ambiguous and confusing so if, as a business owner or employer, you are unsure of whether your ladders comply with legislation, having them checked by professionals is essential.

If necessary, you’ll need to arrange for a safety fabrication specialist to visit your premises and inspect any fixed access ladders.  They will survey your equipment and advise you on what needs doing to bring your ladder systems up to date so that they comply with legislation.  By collaborating with a safety fabrication specialist, you can make sure that you reduce the risk of your employees suffering injuries and accidents in the workplace.