The Ladder Exchange Initiative – What’s It All About?

The Ladder Exchange Initiative – What’s It All About?

11th February 2014

The Ladder Exchange Initiative was first launched in 2007 by the UK’s work safety regulator as a campaign to encourage users of old or broken ladders to trade them in at companies across the UK in exchange for a discount on a new ladder.   This was an effective means of making sure unsafe ladders were destroyed.  The Ladder Exchange Initiative was such a success that it is now an annual campaign that has so far removed more than 10,000 bent, broken or damaged ladders from use in the UK.

Safety Ladders Exchange Initiative The Ladder Exchange Initiative is actively supported by the Ladder Association and its members who have made a firm commitment to work in partnership with the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the access industry. 

The Exchange has made a valuable contribution towards raising awareness and understanding in the UK of how to use ladders and step ladders safely.  It is a brilliant example of how every player in the health and safety system can share responsibility and work together towards the common goal of reducing injuries sustained as a result of falling from height.

It’s estimated that more than two million ladders are in daily use in the UK and falls from height remain one of the main causes of death and injury in the workplace.  Ladders are involved in almost a third of all reported falls from height incidents which is why the Ladder Exchange Initiative was first launched.
In 2013, falls from height accounted for 31% of fatal injuries to workers (all of whom were males),  six of whom were over the age of 65, despite over 65’s only accounting for 4% of the male workforce.   Roughly half of these fatal fall injuries were in the construction industry and no other industry sector saw more than two fatal injuries from falls.  This means that employees in the construction industry remain most at risk of falling from height.

Although figures for fall from height fatalities are decreasing, it’s a slow process and more needs to be done to reduce the figures further.  This is partly what the Ladder Exchange Initiative is about.  However, there are many other non-fatal falls, especially from ladders, that lead to injuries and absence.  Making sure that ladders are in good working order and fit for the task at hand is essential to reduce incidents even further.

Companies around the UK where ladders are used as part of the work equipment need to ensure that ladder safety inspections take place on a regular basis in order to make sure that ladders used by their workforce are all in tip top condition.  This inevitably means ladder inspection training.

With raised awareness, ladder safety training, regular inspections and the removal from use of any ladders considered unsafe, perhaps we’ll reach a stage where injuries caused by ladders are a thing of the past.