What you Need to Know About Fixed Access Ladders

What you Need to Know About Fixed Access Ladders

23rd July 2015

Fixed access ladders are generally vertical ladders that provide access to the tops of tanks, silos and, sometimes, roofs. Fixed ladders are generally used for access only and are not designed to act as working platforms. If the fixed ladder is more than 9 meters high, then a rest platform is necessary. These ladders can be particularly difficult to use, especially during inclement weather. Fixed access ladders over 3m long should have some sort of fall arrest system in place to increase safety. This will often be a safety cage of some sort in a specified shape and should be strength tested. However, safety hoops of this type have proved to be ineffective as a fall arrest device and are not effective during incidents of falls from heights.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) funded research into the effectiveness of ladder safety hoops when used with a variety of fall arrest systems and has published some useful information for the industry, stakeholders and duty holders. Although there is no evidence that caged ladders are effective in arresting falls, if a fall arrest system is used in conjunction with the caged ladder, then the hoops may compromise the effectiveness of the fall arrest system in preventing injuries.

Although safety hoops on fixed ladders are no longer considered to be effective from a fall protection point of view, users are being urged not to remove the hoops as they contribute to safety in other ways namely by providing workers with psychological benefits. The most effective method of ensuring safety when using fixed access ladders is the personal fall arrest system installed within the hooped ladder. The use of fall arrest equipment in conjunction with hooped ladders actually creates new risks of serious injury in the event of a fall. Workers should wear helmets when using fixed access ladders for added safety and there should be a rescue plan in place to combat the risks.

All new fixed access ladders need to comply with the appropriate industry standards the right design for the task at hand and fabricated from the correct materials. If you have fixed access ladders in your company, then you'll need to ensure that they are safe for your employees to use. Recent changes in legislation could mean that your fixed access ladders are out of date and will need to be modified or replaced. Because the legal requirements for using fixed access ladders are confusing, the best way of ensuring that your company is in compliance with legislation is to ask the professionals.

A safety fabrication specialist can visit your work site to inspect the fixed access ladders and let you know what needs to be done to bring your ladders up to date. The specialist will be fully aware of what types of ladders will be most suitable or advise you on any modifications needed to ensure the safety of your employees. Together you can collaborate on a plan to make sure that your equipment is safe and that your employees are not at risk.