Using The Right Ladder Correctly Is Essential To Get The Job Done Safely

Using The Right Ladder Correctly Is Essential To Get The Job Done Safely

24th January 2014

Recent news reports reveal that a Plymouth roofing company’s director was fined £2000 (and ordered to pay costs of £5000) after one of his employees fell seven feet from an untied ladder and subsequently died of his injuries, leaving a widow and three children.  The employee was decorating the exterior of a house in Plymouth in June, 2011 when the ladder he was using twisted free causing him to fall onto the concrete path below.  It was discovered in court that no scaffolding was provided for the job and that the ladder was placed in a dangerous manner on a curved section of ironwork.  The employee was rushed to hospital where he was diagnosed with five broken ribs and surface fractures to his spinal vertebrae, along with internal injuries which soon resulted in his death.

The case was brought by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who investigated the incident.  The ladder in question was a domestic type ladder with a maximum safe working load of 95 kg.  With the employee weighing 110 kg, a more robust trade style ladder should have been in use.  In fact, to minimise the risk of a fall, it was deemed that scaffolding should have been provided in order to carry out the work – at the very least, the ladder should have been braced securely and tied to the building.
Incidents such as this serve to highlight just how important it is to use the right type of ladder for the task being undertaken.  A spokesman for the HSE said that the employee suffered terrible injuries in what was a preventable tragedy.  He went on to say that the incident “shows how seemingly simple tasks using a ladder can quickly turn into a serious incident if basic safety measures are not followed, such as securing the ladder to the building.”
Falls from ladders are a regular cause of injury and death in the UK despite the fact that safety standards are well known and suitable equipment is readily available.  Cutting costs by not providing the correct equipment leaves employees at risk and this is totally unacceptable in the British workplace today.  We are living in a new century and inadequate attention to employee health and safety has no place in the UK today.  

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It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all employees have the correct tools and equipment to carry out their work safely and effectively.  Working at height is a dangerous business and it’s absolutely vital that the ladders, platforms and safety equipment used is in good condition and is of the appropriate type for the job to be done.  Providing employees with unsafe or inappropriate equipment can be costly in more ways than one.  This business owner has lost £7000 in fines, a sum that would put many small companies out of business.  However, even worse is the fact that the employee lost his life, his wife lost a husband and his children lost their father.  The money is replaceable; however an employee who has lost his life is gone forever.