Ladder Safety - How To Get It Right

Ladder Safety - How To Get It Right

28th May 2014

Ladder safety is a huge issue here in the UK, where ladders account for more than half of all falls from height statistics.  Ladder safety was in the news last year when the number of falls from ladders soared during a three month period, contributing to a 60% increase over the same time period the year before.  In the second quarter of 2013 a total of 235 accidents were reported in the construction industry alone, with 12% of those accidents due to a fall from height.  A massive 25% of workers injured in a fall from height were painters and every painter that reported an injury was hurt in a fall from a ladder.

This increase in falls from ladders represented a definite trend according to Paul Kimpton, Director of The Building Safety Group (BSG), a leading health, safety and environmental consultancy which provides training courses and advice to the UK construction industry.  He went on to reveal that the painters injured in falls from ladders were carrying out “summer specific jobs” such as exterior work on residential homes. 

Mr. Kimpton went on to opine that ladders “should only be used for short duration work but it seemed they were being used for long periods and at unsafe angles”.  He went on to advise that using the correct equipment for the task at hand is vital.  The UK Health and Safety Executive  (HSE) Chief Inspector of Construction, Heather Bryant, has disclosed that most falls are entirely preventable  and that the industry needs to do more to prevent these types of accidents which have a devastating effect on workers and their families.

With so many types of ladder available, fabricated from a wide range of materials, choosing the right ladder for the task at hand can seem confusing.  Here are some tips that will help you to make sure that you are using the appropriate ladder in any given situation:

Choosing the correct length ladder is vital – it’s not safe to use ladders that are either too short or too long.  If using a step ladder, then the top two steps are not to be used for standing on, while the top three rungs of an extension ladder should not be used.  A straight ladder is too long if the ceiling height prevents it from being used at the correct angle (1:4).

The Duty Rating is another thing to check to ensure that you have the correct ladder for the task at hand.  Duty rating governs the maximum weight that any ladder can safely carry – the weight of the individual using the ladder combined with the weight of any tools or equipment that will be needed to complete the job.

Last, but not least, is to ensure that you follow basic ladder safety guidelines when using a ladder of any type.  If you’re using the ladder in a domestic setting, then the onus is on the user when it comes to safety.  However, if using a ladder for work purposes, then the final responsibility for health and safety issues rests with the employer.  Those whose work involves using a ladder in any situation will need to undergo ladder safety training to ensure that they are fully knowledgeable on the correct use of ladders and how to avoid accidents and injuries.