New Ladder Safety Standards
There are approximately 609,000 cases of reportable work-related accidents in the UK each year according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and it’s been revealed that the most common cause is falling from height (accounting for 28% of incidents). Although the number of fatal injuries have decreased in recent years, thanks in no small measure to stringent health and safety legislation backed by a strict enforcement process in the UK, many of these accidents involve the use of a ladder.
In order to address the problems arising from the use of ladders, the European Committee for Standardisation has published some standards that are designed to reduce the number of ladder related accidents – namely standards EN 131-1 and EN 131-2. These standards establish new testing and design requirements to make sure ladders comply with the strict criteria for stability and load bearing capacity and they came into force at the beginning of January, both in the UK and throughout Europe. Today we’re going to take a detailed look at the new standards to keep our readers informed of all legislation that affects those who work in construction, particularly those who are expected to work at height.
Under the new regulations, all leaning ladders that are 3m or longer will have to be equipped with a stabiliser bar. The new standards also include a “Professional” category to replace BS 2037 Class 1, which is the current standard for industrial and heavy duty ladders. There are stricter test requirements in relation to strength and slip resistance and EN 131-2 also contains additional regulations for mechanical durability tests and torsion tests.
There’s no need to rush out and replace your existing equipment, though your ladders should be checked on a regular basis to make sure they meet current safety standards. Any ladders showing signs of Corrosion, wear and tear or other damage should be replaced immediately.
Commercial and industrial users of ladders in the UK are reminded that they should adhere to their respective workplace regulations. In order to identify compliant models, companies should request their safety officers to undertake a risk assessment of all ladders as soon as possible.
The new standards are intended to improve safety and here are some tips that will help with assessments:
• Inspect ladders on a regular basis – it’s recommended that ladders are subjected to a pre-use check and a more detailed inspection at least once every three months.
• Make sure that the person inspecting the ladders is qualified to do so. An inspection is only considered legally compliant if it is performed by a certified in-house safety officer or a trained employee of a specialist company.
• Access systems can be retrofitted to comply with regulations – for example, a stabiliser bar can be added to a leaning ladder to ensure compliance with EN 131-1.
• In addition to regular inspection, business owners should always keep an eye on the state of their ladders and access equipment to ensure that they are safe to use in the work environment.