Safety Tips For Working On Ladders

Safety Tips For Working On Ladders

15th May 2014

Falling at work is still the most frequent causes of workplace injury here in the UK and more than a third of the falls involve a ladder of some sort.  These common items of equipment account for 1,200 major injuries and 14 deaths every year, so ladder safety really is an important issue in all industries.  A workplace fall is always subject to investigation which generally demonstrates that many of the falls could have been prevented if the ladder had been used correctly.  This highlights the importance of ladder safety training and then using that training to ensure that any ladders used are used in a safe and appropriate manner.

The Work at Height 2005 (WAHR) is the UK legislation that has been designed to ensure safety in the work place.  Safety in the workplace is ultimately the responsibility of the employer and providing the correct ladders for the tasks at hand is an important part of ensuring the safety of the workforce.  However, it’s up to the user of the ladder to make sure that he or she follows correct safety procedures when using a ladder.

We’ve put together a list of safety tips that you can refer to if you need to use ladders in the course of your work, either on a regular or intermittent basis.

  • The ladder should be in good condition and free from damage or defects.  Make sure that the rubber feet are not missing so that it has a good grip on the surface on which it stands.
  • The ladder should rest on firm ground (if you need to spread the load of the ladder, then use a strong board underneath it).
  • The surface on which the ladder rests must be clean (make sure there is no oil, leaf litter, moss or other slippery substances).  The ground should be clear of loose materials such as packaging, sand, gravel, etc so that the feet of the ladder can get a good grip on the surface on which they rest.
  • The ladder needs to be safely placed where it’s not at risk of being knocked by windows, doors, etc.   If the ladder has to be set up near a door, then you will need to make sure that you have a colleague to stand watch to prevent accidents.
  • Make sure that you never overload the ladder – your body weight combined with the weight of tools or equipment should not exceed the maximum load stated on the ladder.
  • If you need to carry tools and equipment when using a ladder, make sure you always have one hand free to grip with.
  • Make sure that you keep both feet on the same rung when working on a ladder and never overreach – a handy way to make sure that you’re not overreaching is to make sure that your belt buckle is always inside the stiles (uprights) of the ladder at all times.  If you cannot reach the area you need to work on, then you need to move the ladder along.
  • If using a straight ladder, don’t use the top three rungs and if using a stepladder don’t stand on the cap or the top two rungs.
  • Always wear sensible shoes or boots with non-slip soles.  Your footwear should be in good condition with no dangling laces when using a ladder and the soles should be clean (free from oil, mud or other slippery substances).