Ladder Safety Month – Week Three
March is National Ladder Safety Month, both here in the UK and across the Pond in the USA. Ladder Safety Month will be staging a series of initiatives to demonstrate that ladders, podiums and other access related products can be the safest method of working at height. As long as the risk is assessed correctly and the most appropriate product for the task at hand is chosen and used correctly, then using a ladder should not present any problems.
As we said in our first article of this series , each week during the month of March we’re going to publish a more detailed article focusing on the specific safety topic of the week and this week, we’re going to cover the Ladder Safety at Home.
When it comes to using a ladder in the workplace, there is stringent legislation here in the UK designed to ensure the health, wellbeing and safety of employees. Anybody expected to use a ladder during the course of their work, whether on a regular basis or infrequently to reach a high shelf or change a light bulb now and again, will need to have undergone ladder safety training. Moreover, ladders that are used in the workplace need to be inspected before use and there’s a legal obligation to ensure that ladders are inspected and maintained on a regular basis.
However, using a ladder at home, whether indoors or in the garden, isn’t covered by legislation and it really is up to the user to ensure their own safety. Most of us think nothing of it when we use a ladder in a domestic setting – just set the ladder up in the right place and we’re good to go. Stop! Take a look at the following information before you even think about using a ladder.
Statistics have shown that more accidents happen in the home than anywhere else and around 6,000 deaths a year are as a result of a domestic accident, with falls being the most common type. Before using a domestic ladder take into consideration that 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.
Next time you’re thinking of using a ladder at home, think about whether there is another, safer method of accessing the area you need to reach. With spring on the way (we hope) many of us will be looking at doing some outside jobs that may need a ladder – we’ll have more advice for using a ladder in the home and garden over the coming months.