Taking steps towards ladder safety

Accidents involving falls from heights are not confined to the construction industry or high scaffolding. In fact the highest number of deaths amongst ladder users occurs amongst those working at less than 2 metres off the ground - just the right height for changing a lightbulb, for example.

So whatever industry you are in, with the H&SE now applying the working at height regulations more rigorously across all areas, it's time to get best practice off the ground on your own premises.

The Working at Height Regulations (2005) stipulate that no-one should work from steps or a ladder for a single period of more than thirty minutes at a time. But half an hour is plenty long enough for a  badly maintained ladder to fail, an aluminium ladder to lead to an electric shock for its user, or for someone simply to fall off a poorly-positioned stepladder. So it’s essential that your employees know how to choose the right access equipment for the job and how to use it safely, and that you  have documented processes in place to ensure the equipment is maintained in a safe condition.

Choosing the right access equipment, keeping it maintained, and knowing when and how it is safe to use demands a level of training and knowledge which few businesses have in place in-house. That’s why ERIKS has a partnership with TB Davies – distributor and manufacturer of ladders and access equipment with over 65 years’ experience. Based in South Wales, TB Davies also provides training – either on-site or at one of its six national training centres – and inspection services.

With the right equipment, in good condition, used correctly, it’s safe to get on with the job. But not day after day, month after month, without further inspection and maintenance of the equipment. Many employers believe an annual equipment inspection is all that’s required. But that is the maximum period between inspections, and applies only to equipment used at most every two or three weeks. Ladders or steps used weekly should be inspected every six months, and those used every day will need to be inspected quarterly.

Of course, however thorough the inspection, if it is not fully documented it’s of little use in the event of an accident and an H&SE investigation. So employers should keep a logbook of what was inspected, when it was inspected, what was discovered, what action was taken to remedy any faults, and when the next inspection is due.

The kind of knowledge necessary to make a comprehensive inspection or pre-use check, and to select the right equipment and use it safely, can only be acquired through thorough training: the kind of training available through ERIKS’ partner.

TB Davies not only has almost seven decades’ experience of steps, ladders and access  equipment, but is also a member of the Ladder Association – the UK’s leading body for training and education for these items – and is also a Ladder Association Authorised Trainer. ERIKS can also call on the expertise of T. B. Davies to ensure you always have the right equipment for the job.

Satisfying the requirements of the Working at Heights Regulations (2005) may seem like a  mountain to climb. But with access equipment, training, advice and support from ER IKS and TB Davies, it’s not insurmountable.