Ladder Safety Month – Week Two
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 last week, 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 Work – Focus on Employees topic.
If you use a ladder at work or if you’re an employer whose staff need to use a ladder at work, then there are some important health and safety issues that you should be aware of. Using a ladder can present risks and falls from height are the most common cause of fatalities in the workplace, accounting for nearly 30% of fatal injuries to workers here in the UK. Ladders are extensively used in the construction industry and most employers and workers in that sector are fully aware of the importance of the correct training in using ladders safely, especially those who use ladders on a daily basis. However, ladders are also used in other industries and often not on a daily basis. When using a ladder is a task that is performed on an irregular basis, employers and workers often think that no training is needed, that as long as they are sensible when using the ladder, everything will be okay.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The same risks are present and the employers are equally as responsibly for the health and safety of their employees as those in the construction industry. Anybody who uses a ladder at work (even if it’s only on an infrequent basis) will need to undergo ladder safety training. Any ladder that is used (even if it is only used one a month or once every six months) will need to undergo a ladder safety check by a competent person before being used.
Those who use a ladder in work need to be competent – this means they need to have undergone ladder safety training and understand how to use the ladder safely. This training can take place on the job if necessary, and can take place under the supervision of somebody who can perform the task in a competent manner.
Before starting any task that involves the use of a ladder, a pre-use ladder safety check must take place in order to identify any defects that would make the ladder unsafe to use. The pre-use check should be carried out by the ladder user before the ladder is used and at any point in the procedure when anything changes, such as if the ladder is moved from one area to another.
For a full checklist to perform a pre-use ladder safety inspection, check out this handy Checklist we put together for you.