Making Sure Safety Ladders Are Safe
A safety ladder can only be considered “safe” if the person using it to gain access is able to use the ladder correctly. When it comes to using fixed access safety ladders there are several issues to consider, so today we’re going to give you the tips you need to ensure your safety.
- A fixed access safety ladder should be inspected before each use
- Fixed access ladders should be inspected on a regular basis, this means at least once each year, but more frequently depending on the amount of use the ladder gets, whether it’s exposed to the elements (such as bad weather or salt air).
- Any defects discovered during inspection (or during subsequent use) should be reported immediately.
- A record must be kept of every inspection.
What to check for during inspection:
- Make sure that there are no worn, damaged or loose rungs or side rails.
- Check for corrosion or damage on any guard, bolts and rivet heads.
- Ensure that the cage is not corroded or damaged.
- Check for loose, damaged or broken anchorages.
- Inspect platforms for corroded or damaged handrails and brackets.
- Ensure that any surfaces are not slippery – especially from oil and/or ice.
- Any safety gates should be in good working order and function correctly.
- Check that there are no tools, equipment or other items obstructing the base of the ladder.
How to use a fixed access safety ladder:
- A fixed safety ladder should only be used by one person at a time, so check that any other person has alighted from the ladder (whether they are ascending or descending) before using it.
- When using a ladder (whether it’s a fixed access ladder or a freestanding ladder), begin by facing the ladder and gripping the rungs firmly with both hands.
- Place your feet firmly on each rung as you climb or descend.
- As always with ladders, you still need to maintain three-point contact (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand) on the ladder at all times.
- Make sure that you use any appropriate safety devices – for example, safety rails, vertical lifelines, a restraint belt, travelling fixture, etc.
- Make sure that your footwear is always in good condition, especially when using ladders.
- Make sure your footwear is clean and free of mud, grease and other contaminants before using a ladder.
- Tools, equipment and materials should be raised or lowered using a hand-line.
Avoid risks when using a fixed access safety ladder:
- Do not carry tools or materials when climbing a ladder – any small tools can be carried in a toolbelt, leaving both hands free to maintain contact with the ladder.
- Avoid climbing ladders with wet or muddy soles as this increases the chance of slipping.
- Never jump from a ladder and always check the footing before descending.
- Never rush when using a ladder – and, however cool you think you are, never slide down a ladder.
- If climbing a ladder more than 3 metres (10 feet), you should use fall protection equipment.