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22 Mar 2021

ladder left on runway

A recent news report from the BBC shows how a step ladder was accidentally left on a Birmingham Airport runway for half an hour! As far as airport safety goes, having any kind of item obstructing the runway is an accident waiting to happen. 

During the thirty minutes that the ladder was stranded on the tarmac, three different passenger planes landed on the runway - narrowly missing the unexpected obstruction. 

How did the ladder end up there? Well, the report suggests that two airport technicians had been working on the lights along the runway. They packed up their kit and headed back to the main building, but somehow the ladder broke free from the back of their van and was left stranded.

An investigation into why this happened, suggested that the bungee cord used to fasten the ladder to the van was not suitable. More suitable securing equipment was available for the technicians, but they suggested it was not easy to access. Instead, they opted for the bungee cord which was deemed 'unsuitable because it was stretched almost to its limit'.

Thankfully, no planes came into contact with the rogue step ladder, and the ladder was removed safely before a serious incident could occur. 

This incident did, however, lead to some positive changes that will improve the way equipment is transported around airport grounds. Employees will be trained and assessed on a regular basis, and will also be expected to follow a number of specific control measures to keep colleagues and passengers safe. 

Transporting ladders safely

Ladders can be quite difficult to transport, especially if you're moving from one place to another in a standard-sized car. How many times have you driven past someone with a ladder hanging out of their boot? Too many, in our opinion.

The technicians at Birmingham airport had access to a van, which is generally more suitable for ladder transportation, but as we've seen, accidents can still occur.

To transport a ladder safely, you really need to make sure your ladder is fixed to your vehicle securely. That means:

  • Use the right fastenings
  • Check them at least once before setting off
  • Allow for the overhang of the ladder

Improper ladder transportation can lead to all kinds of accidents. Just think how dangerous it would be for a step ladder to fall off a van on a motorway, or on a winding country road! Take a bit of extra time to secure your ladder before you attempt to travel anywhere.

Read More: How to transport a ladder 

It's easy to see how a simple maintenance job can turn into a serious incident in a matter of seconds. That's why it's always important to remain vigilant and work safely when using a ladder. 

Ladder Safety >