When it comes to health and safety in the workplace, you can never be too cautious. In 2020/2021, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that over "441,000 working people sustained an injury at work", and "142 people were killed at work". Those statistics are pretty shocking and a stark reminder of why health and safety in the workplace is so important.
As part of an initiative to keep the conversation about health and safety going, governments, workers and employers observe World Day for Health and Safety at Work every year, and this year it falls on the 28th of April! So, to mark the occasion, we're going to recap some of the most important ladder health and safety tips.
Always check your ladder before working
Before you even use a ladder to complete a job, you should check it over to make sure it's in good working order. Carrying out a risk assessment is a great way to ensure that your equipment and your working area are safe. Your risk assessment should include:
- Check your equipment for signs of damage/wear and tear
- Ensure your workspace is free from hazards & debris
- Assess whether you need any specialist equipment or PPE in order to work safely
- Estimate the time it will take to complete the job. Fatigue can lead to accidents
We've written a whole host of blogs to help you prepare to work on a ladder. Take a look here:
- How Do You Know if A Ladder is Safe?
- What Clothes Should I Wear When Using a Ladder?
- Step Ladder Risk Assessment: What to Do
Ensure your ladder is positioned safely & unlikely to slip or fall
While damaged equipment and lack of PPE do contribute to workplace accidents, one of the more common reasons that people injure themselves when using a ladder is because the ladder wasn't positioned properly. Often this part of the workflow is rushed because people just want to get on with the task at hand, but that's where things can go drastically wrong. If your ladder isn't positioned safely, it increases the risk of an accidental slip or fall. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your ladder is positioned correctly and safe to use:
- Introduce additional equipment, for example, a ladder mat, a ladder chock or a standoff
- Tie the ladder to a secure anchor point
- Manually level out uneven ground before you start working
- Take precautions for the weather conditions
We've shared a few different blogs that can help you position and secure your ladder before you start working. Take a look here:
- Why You Shouldn't Use an Unsecured Ladder
- How to Use a Ladder on Uneven Ground
- Using a Ladder in the Rain
Use your ladder with caution & don't rush!
Once you've completed your risk assessment & got your ladder set up correctly, you can start to think about actually using it. If you've followed the safety guidelines up until this point, then you should be at fairly low risk of an accident or injury. That being said, human error has a way of sneaking up on us, and you can't always be prepared for every eventuality. You can, however, equip yourself with knowledge on how to work at height safely & what to do in the event of an emergency, eg. what to do if your ladder starts to fall. A few things you should keep in mind are:
- Always maintain 3 points of contact with the ladder
- Always keep your body centred on the ladder
- Avoid overreaching and don't make sudden movements
We've put together a few different guides to help make sure that you can use our ladders in the safest way possible. Take a look here:
- Working Safely at Height: A Guide
- How to Avoid Overreaching While on a Ladder
- What to do if Your Ladder Starts to Fall
We hope that you take some time to reflect on your own health and safety practices at work whether you use a ladder on a regular basis, or not. Here at Ladders UK Direct, we pride ourselves on providing you with high-quality equipment that will keep you safe in a range of challenging environments. Whether you need a fibreglass ladder to work around electrical hazards or a platform ladder to provide extra space and stability at height - we've got you covered!
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