Did you know that 40% of all fatalities that occur in the workplace, and in particular the construction industry, happen as a result of a fall from height? (HSE)
Meanwhile, just under 20% of all non-fatal injuries in this trade over the last five years were also caused as a result of falls from individuals working at height, showing just how dangerous this type of work can be when the correct safety measures are not carried out.
And this is just in the workplace, just imagine how many deaths and injuries occur in and around the home that aren’t accounted for. This goes to show the importance of understanding safety when working at height and more specifically when using a ladder.
This handy infographic aims to provide the essential ladder safety tips that you should always follow to minimise the risks associated with working on a ladder at work or home.
Types of Ladders
There are two main types of ladders that you will use when working at height in the workplace or at home:
Step Ladders Straight or Extension Ladders
Main Causes of Ladder Injuries
Before knowing how to stay safe on a ladder, it’s important to understand what the main causes of ladder injuries are. These include:
- Poor or lack of pre-use inspection
- Incorrect setup
- Incorrect ladder use
- Poor understanding of surroundings
What to Look Out for before Using a Ladder
To help ensure your ladder-related tasks don’t come crashing down, here are the areas of the ladder that will need to be inspected to ensure you avoid a fall from grace and keep your spirits high.
- Stiles – The stiles are the vertical parts of the ladder, found on either side of the rungs. Before climbing up any ladder, it’s crucial to inspect the stiles to look out for any signs of damage such as splits, dents or bends. Damage to the stiles can seriously impact the structural integrity of the ladder and can potentially cause it to break mid-use.
- Rungs – Ladder rungs are the horizontal steps that you climb on to ascend or descend a ladder. Just like the stiles, these are paramount when it comes to ensuring your ladder is fit for purpose. If you spot any rungs that are loose, bent or missing, it’s advised to not use your ladder and look to replace it right away.
- Feet – The feet of the ladder can be found on the underside of the stiles, typically fitted with rubber bases that provide extra support and friction between the ladder and the ground. If you notice that the ladder’s feet have become worn, damaged or are missing entirely, this can cause the ladder to slip from underneath you when you are on it so will also need to be replaced as soon as possible.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Ladder Safety
When using a ladder, you SHOULD:
- Always try to maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times (two hands & one foot or two feet & one hand)
- Ensure you and your materials never exceed the maximum load limit of the ladder
- Carry all tools and materials in a tool belt or use a hand line
- Always face the ladder and work from the centre on the stiles
- Ensure your shoes and clothes are clean and appropriate for working at height
- Try to secure the ladder whenever possible using a tie-off or get another person to hold the bottom
- Ensure extension and step ladders are fully extended and locked in place
When using a ladder you SHOULD NOT:
- Work from either of the top two rungs unless the ladder’s specifications allow you to do so
- Move the ladder whilst you or anyone else is on it
- Connect ladders together to extend their length
- Carry heavy items whilst climbing up or down the ladder that may make you lose balance
- Place the ladder on top of a box, unstable base or in front of or against a door
- Use the ladder as support on scaffolding or as a horizontal walkway
By following these simple safety tips, you will ensure that the risks involved with working at height whilst using a ladder are drastically reduced or eliminated completely. If your ladder has become damaged and needs to be replaced, be sure to browse our extensive range of high-quality ladders at www.laddersukdirect.co.uk
For more information on our step, extension or any type of ladder that we supply, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Ladders UK Direct team today!