Working at Height and Safe Use of Ladders

Kevin our I.T Manager rein acting a box accident. No Kevins injured in the production of this feature.

Did you know that falling from height is one of the biggest causes of death and injury at a workplace?

Now, we don’t mean to scare you – but this useful guide will teach you how and why these fatal accidents occur, and ways to reduce the risk of this happening to you or your employees.

Working at height refers to anything above ground level, in fact the majority of recorded injures are falls from less than 2 metres.

The world has gone mad…You need to do a course to safely use a ladder…we explain why?

Most of these accidents are usually down to incorrect use of equipment, or a lack of knowledge of how to safely use a ladder.

Reasons people fall from height

Some common reasons for people falling from height include:

  • An unbalanced ladder
  • A ladder that is leaning
  • Lack of knowledge on working at height
  • Stretching too far when on a ladder
  • Using faulty equipment whilst on a ladder
  • Slipping (due to wrong shoes)

When should you use a ladder at a workplace?

First of all, ask yourself – do you really need to use a ladder?

The recommend guidance is to eliminate the need for a ladder where possible.

However, if it is essential to work at height, the law states that a ladder can be used to work at height if a risk assessment has shown that the task is of a short duration and in a low-risk situation.

If your job is expected to take longer than around 30 minutes working on a leaning ladder (or stepladder), the HSE recommended that you seek alternative equipment

It’s also important to note that you should only use ladders to work from height in situations where it is safe to do so. For example, ensure that you ladder is stable on the ground and has a secure hold.

Who can use a ladder in the workplace?

In order to use a ladder at work, you need to understand how to use the equipment correctly and in the safest way possible. Using a ladder is a basic work skill for many tradespeople and requires you to have extensive knowledge before carrying out any activity from height.

Luckily, there are a range of ladder safety courses available online from as little as just £20. Bear in mind that you should look for courses that are recognised by a CPD (continuous Compulsory Personal Development) certified Training Provider. Certificates issued from CPD providers prove more credible to both employers and businesses, as the learning has been scrutinised by exam bodies to ensure quality and integrity.

Safety checks to carry out before using a ladder at work

  • Check the vertical rails (stiles)

You need to ensure that the stiles are in good condition, if they are bent or cracked, the ladder could collapse.

  • Check the feet of the ladder

If the feet of your ladder are damaged, it could make the job very unstable and increase the risk of falling. Ensure that the feet are clean and have good contact with the surface.

  • Check all welds, rivets and screws.

This is pretty obvious but using a ladder with damaged welds or missing screws can pose a threat for those working at height.

  • Check the rungs

The rungs of a ladder are also an important component and need to be in good condition and secure. Do not use a ladder with missing rungs as it could fall as soon as your weight is applied.

  • Check the steps or treads on stepladders

If the steps of the ladder are dirty or contaminated, they could cause you to slip in the workplace.

How to ensure you are safe when using a ladder

  • Carry light materials whilst on the ladder
  • Ensure that the ladder is the correct size/height for the job – this eliminates the risk of overstretching
  • Check the ladder label and information guide to see the maximum weight it can hold
  • Keep the ladder at 75 degrees
  • Don’t move the ladder whilst standing on the rungs

Ladder safety is an important part of any tradespersons job, and anyone working at height should have basic knowledge of working on a ladder. To reduce the risk of being victim to a dangerous ladder fall, we strongly recommend taking an online ladder safety course to consolidate your knowledge and learn some expert tips on how to keep yourself safe whilst at height.

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