Ladder Safety

  Did you know there were 147 UK workplace deaths in 2018/2019 and 37% of those were due to ‘falls from height’? Many of these injuries could have be avoided as they were caused by inappropriate or incorrect use of the equipment and they not only cause human suffering but also cost the UK economy millions every year*.
ladder safety

So, why are there so many ladder related accidents?

Ladders have been around for almost 10,000 years and are commonplace items to virtually every home and workplace. This, and their simplicity, generates the false impression that ladder work requires no special knowledge or skills - when in fact the opposite is true. Anyone who uses a ladder should be trained and have knowledge about ‘working at height’ to ensure they’re equipped about the range of risks involved and the precautions necessary to prevent injury.

Prevent accident or injury when working at height^?

By following a few important steps, you can help safe guard against any ladder accidents or personal injury when working at height; Risk assessment A risk assessment should firstly be carried out to decipher if a ladder is the most suitable piece of equipment for the task in hand. As a guide, if your task would require staying up a leaning ladder or stepladder for more than 30 minutes at a time, it is recommended that you consider alternative equipment. You should only use ladders in situations where they can be used safely, e.g. where the ladder will be level and stable. Competent/trained user Following the risk assessment, if the ladder is the most appropriate piece of equipment, the ladder operator must be competent, i.e. have knowledge on how to use the equipment safely. Choosing the correct ladder Using a ladder for purposes not anticipated in its design is a common cause of falls. Therefore make sure the ladder you use is suitable for the planned task. (Safety regulations give specific measurement requirements.)

Inspecting the ladder 

(If you spot any ladder defects, don’t use the ladder) - Check the stiles to ensure they’re not bent or damaged - Check that the feet are not worn, damaged or even missing - Check that the rungs are not bent, worn, missing - Check that any locking mechanisms fully engage and are not bent or damaged - Check the stepladder platform is not split or buckled - Check the steps or treads on stepladders – if they are contaminated they could be slippery

Setting up a ladder

Once you've carried out your pre-use checks and established that it's in good condition, it's important to know where and how to set up the ladder, and where and how not to. Check for overhead electrical wires, that the area around the base and top of the ladder are clear of debris, tools and other objects. If you are using a ladder in high traffic or public areas, set up suitable barricades. If you're using a ladder in a doorway, lock the doors shut.

Use your ladder safely

Even when you're not going very high, climbing a ladder can be a bit of a balancing act. By following these tips you can climb with greater comfort and security:
  • Make sure the ladder is at the correct angle (75° or 1 in 4)
  • Make sure the ladder it is long enough or high enough for the task
  • Wear protective footwear with slip-resistant soles and heels. Before mounting a ladder, make sure your footwear is in good condition, and wipe off the soles if necessary. Don't climb a ladder if the soles of your shoes or boots are wet, muddy or slippery
  • Make sure you hold the rungs of the ladder, not the side rails. The rungs are easier to hold onto in case your foot slips. Face the ladder when going up or down and when working from it. Keep the centre of your body within the side rails.
  • Always maintain three-point contact by keeping two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand, on the ladder at all times.
  • Only carry light materials and tools and avoid holding items when climbing
  • Don’t overload it and don’t overreach
  • Don’t try to move or extend ladders while standing on the rungs
  • Do not work from the top three rungs. The higher you go on a ladder, the greater the possibility that it will slip out at the base
  • Don’t stand ladders on moveable objects, such as pallets, bricks, lift trucks, tower scaffolds, excavator buckets, vans, or mobile elevating work platforms
  • For a leaning ladder, you should always secure it (e.g. by tying the ladder to prevent it from slipping either outwards or sideways) and have a strong upper resting point
  • You should also always use an effective stability device

Useful info/sites:

Ladderm8rix HSE safe use of ladders and step ladders guide indg455 Ladderm8rix HSE working at height brief guide indg401    
Disclaimer: The Site cannot and does not contain any legal ladder safety/working at height or health advice. The ladder safety/working at height or health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.
Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of legal ladder safety/working at height or health and safety advice. The use or reliance of any information contained on this site is solely at your own risk.
The information and articles is meant to provide you with tips only and is not advise. The information contained is not an exhaustive list. For Ladder safety and working at height you should also refer to the working at height act 2005 and the HSE safe use and ladder and step ladders guide. Written for the UK audience.* Source: Reported injuries to employees in Great Britain by kind of accident, severity of injury and main industry, 2014/15
 ^Refer to the HSE “Safe use of ladders and stepladders” guide  and working at height act 2005 for full list.

Securing a ladder

Using an effective stability device and securing your ladder is imperative to safeguard the ladder user.  Ladders can be secured by either strapping the ladder to a suitable secure point and/or use an effective ladder stability/anti-slip device (footing is the last resort and should be avoided). By securing the ladder safely helps to ensure that the ladder feet cannot move or slip and therefore the ladder and its operator stays safe.

Ladder stabiliser/ ladder anti-slip devices;

  • When buying a ladder stabiliser/anti-slip device, think about the worst type of surface and conditions you will come across. For example, whether you will be using that ladder indoors or outdoors, or whether the ground will be wet, muddy or icy.  Only buy a ladder and associated stability device that will be suitable for your required surfaces.