Ladder Safety Inspections – What's It All About?

Ladder Safety Inspections – What's It All About?

20th May 2014

Injuries in the workplace cost Britain up to £60 million every year and nearly a third of these injuries involve a fall from a ladder.  Even worse, the average number of people who die each year as a result of a fall from a ladder is 14.  Most of the time, when a fall from a ladder has been investigated, it’s discovered that the incident could have been avoided by following health and safety guidelines when using ladders.  The main causes when it comes to incidents which involve falling from ladders are as follows:

  • the ladder is in poor condition
  • the ladder slips due to the ladder user over-reaching
  • the ladder is not correctly secured before use

This clearly demonstrates that ladder safety training is essential for all those who use ladders in the workplace.  This type of training will teach ladder users how to use ladders safely and minimize the risks or accidents and injuries.  However, a ladder in poor condition is an issue that needs to be taken care of by the owner of the ladder or the user each and every time a ladder is used. 

Here are some things that need to be considered every time a ladder is used:

  • The ladder needs to be checked for damage or wear and tear.  Damaged or missing feet will prevent the ladder from resting safely on a flat surface – the ladder should not be used.
  • The rungs or steps of the ladder need to be checked – if any are missing or bent they will represent a weak point that undermines the structural integrity of the ladder as a whole.
  • The stiles (vertical side pieces) of the ladder must be checked for dents, splinters and creases.  If the stiles are damaged in any way it’s likely that the ladder will bend or snap under pressure and the ladder is not fit for purpose.
  • If using a step ladder, the side stays, handrails and braces will need checking to ensure that they are undamaged and still firmly attached.
  • A step ladder’s platform is a vital component in the structural integrity of the ladder, check that it’s not loose or bent and that the support bar is not damaged in any way.
  • Check the ladder all over for loose rivets, splinters, cracks or any other damage.
  • Ladders should not be painted as the paint can cover damage or deformities – only clear preservative should be used to treat ladders as this will ensure that any defects are still visible.

Every employer (or self-employed person) in the UK who uses ladders has a duty of care to staff where there is a risk of falling.  Ladder inspection labels are legally required to show that a ladder is safe to use.  Ladder inspection labels come in two types:  a green or blue label means that the ladder has passed the relevant inspection and is safe to use.  This inspection label should show the date of the most recent safety inspection with the name of the person who carried out the inspection.  A red label means that the ladder has failed the inspection and is not safe for use.