Ladder Wise Leads to Ladder Safety

Ladder Wise Leads to Ladder Safety

20th September 2017

This coming week (and every other week for that matter), somebody in the UK is likely to die after falling from a ladder.  Most of these deaths are completely avoidable and campaigners continue to ensure that we are all aware of the safety issues involved when using ladders.  Those who use ladders in work will need to undergo the requisite training to ensure that the risks are minimised.  There is a legal requirement for all employers to make sure that their employees are fully trained to use all the equipment used during their work.  Ladder safety training is an essential part of working in the construction industry and the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 

The risks involved with carrying out tasks at a height has been recognised by law which has resulted in the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) demanding that employers carry out a full risk assessment before workers are required to carry out tasks at any height.  Employers have a legal duty to provide safe working equipment for everybody asked to work at height – this legislation also applies to full time or part time garden workers who are employed to work in private gardens.   The householder (as the employer in this case) is legally bound to ensure that regulations are complied with at all times.  Ironically, there is no legislation in place to protect homeowners and gardeners when working at height in their own homes and gardens.

For those of us who use ladders in a domestic setting, there is no legal requirement that we are trained in their use or that we carry out safety inspections before beginning work.  It’s all down to our own common sense and sense of responsibility.  One of the most dangerous domestic jobs that require the use of a ladder could be hedge trimming.  As we all grow our hedges to lofty heights in order to ensure our privacy, this means that we need to trim the hedges from a ladder. 

In the UK there are up to three million garden hedges that are over two metres in height which cannot be trimmed whilst standing firmly on the ground.  Out comes the trusty step ladder and we prop it against the hedge and up we go – more often than not wielding an electric hedge trimmer rather than a pair of shears.  We trim away at our hedges, stretching to gain some extra reach before coming down the steps and moving the ladder along – a really dangerous practice that leads to accidents on a regular basis.

When we do move the ladder along, how many of us actually check the footings to ensure that the feet of the ladder is resting securely on a solid piece of ground?  None, I bet.  And how many of us tie the ladder off to the hedge (or tree) before trimming the next expanse of hedge?  Again, no hands raised there!

Learning to use ladders safely in a domestic setting, either indoors or outdoors, would go a long way in reducing the number of domestic accidents involving ladders.