Falling off a ladder can result in some very serious injuries, so before you put your foot on that first rung, it's important to make sure that the risk of a fall is as low as possible.
For example, if you're planning to use the type of ladder that leans against a wall, you must first ensure that the ladder is properly stabilised.
There are a number of different ways to secure a ladder, including:
- Tying the ladder to a secure anchor point
- Using a ladder stabiliser or anti-slip device
- Wedging the ladder in place so that it can't move
- Asking someone to 'foot' the ladder while you use it (not recommended)
For more information on how to stabilise a leaning ladder, read our blog post on How to Stop Ladders Slipping.
What will happen if I don't secure my ladder?
If you decide to ignore the health and safety guidelines and use an unsecured ladder to work at height, there is a real danger that you will fall and injure yourself. And we're not just talking about minor cuts and bruises here - bones have been broken, people have been left paralysed, and yes, lives have been lost because of unsafe ladder use.
You don't have to look too hard to find an example of what can happen when people use unsecured ladders. Just a couple of months ago, a school in Essex was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay more than £5,000 in costs for exactly that reason - a worker had fallen from an unsecured ladder while dismantling a canopy roof, leaving the man with facial injuries and a fractured femur.
Here's what the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) had to say after completing their investigation into this incident:
"Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known. Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working...if a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the serious injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented." - Eleanor Kinman, HSE Inspector
There have been many other stories like this over the years - stories of injuries that might have been prevented if people took ladder safety more seriously.
So before you use a leaning ladder, take the time to think about the possible dangers and ensure the ladder is properly secured. You should also consider whether a leaning ladder is actually the best tool for the job; it may be that a step ladder or scaffold tower would be a safer choice.
How to Stop Your Ladder from Slipping >
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