Using Safety Ladders in the UK - The Lowdown
Here in the UK, every safety ladder used will need to comply with BS EN 5395:1985 in order to satisfy Health and Safety legislation. However, this is just part of the story. Each ladder used needs to be fit for purpose and it needs to be used correctly in order to minimise the risk of injury. It’s no use having the legislation in place if those who are using ladders are not following the guidelines – legislation only works to protect us if we comply with it.
Just about every week local newspapers all across the land report on injuries sustained after falling from a ladder. It’s the most common cause of work-related injury in the UK and every incident is fully investigated. The investigation is not merely to determine whether the injured party is due compensation for the injuries sustained, it’s also to learn whether more could be done to make working at height safer and less of a risk. Working on safety ladders is a dangerous business and the Health and Safety Executive closely monitors each investigation into an incident to ensure that the rules and regulations on working at height are relevant and appropriate.
The Working at Height Regulations (WAHR) in the UK set out that it is the responsibility of the employer to make sure that every member of staff has undertaken the necessary training that’s designed to ensure safety at work. There are a range of training courses available, depending on the type of ladders being used and the type of work being undertaken. These courses include:
· Ladder Safety and Inspection
· Ladder and Step Safety
· Fibreglass Ladder and Step Safety
· Safe Use and Inspection of Safety Harness
· Scaffold Tower Assembly
· Tower Inspection and Maintenance
If the work being undertaken is of a more specialised nature, then additional training will be necessary to cover specific access equipment and specialised areas – such as Risk Assessment (that is designed to ensure that employees are able to assess any potential risks in an informed manner) or Testing and Use of Anchorage Points.
An important factor when working on ladders is to ensure that the correct type of ladder is used for the task at hand. This will depend on several factors, including:
· The location of the ladder
· The purpose of the ladder
· Whether the location is accessible
· Whether the ladder is at a safe angle (between 65˚ and 90˚ in pitch)
Whether the ladders in use are of the stand alone variety or integrated into walkways and platforms, it’s vital that the correct ladder for the jobs is used every time. If a fixed ladder is located in a public area, then access will need to be restricted with a self-closing or anti-climb gate to prevent children (or adults in high spirits) from gaining access. The ladder is the responsibility of the owner whose duty it is to restrict access.
We’re living in an informed and enlightened age when it’s essential that employers are aware of the legal responsibilities they have towards their employees. This will be crucial in ensuring that tragic accidents are avoided wherever possible.