According to the HSE 2016/17 provisional report, falling from a height was the single biggest cause of fatal injuries, constituting 18% of all fatal injuries.
It is vital to make sure your employees work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people with the skill, knowledge and experience to do the job.
Why is it important?
Currently, working at height requires workers/organisations to comply with the ‘Working at Height Regulations 2005’. This legislation makes it compulsory for tradesmen to undertake risk assessments and planning. This must include proper selection of work equipment as well.
It’s essential to ensure that you know the potential risks and how to prevent them.
How to prevent hazards at hight?
At each stage, you should always consider the risk posed for everyone (collective protection) and the individual (personal protection). The law does not expect you to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people by minimising risk as far as is ‘reasonably practicable’.
A person does not need to be formally ‘qualified’ before using a ladder, but rather they must have necessary skill, knowledge and experience. If the job is a low-risk, relatively straightforward task, this will require less planning and less/no precautions.
The Dos and Don’ts
- Work from the ground where possible
- Ensure equipment is suitable, stable and strong enough for the job, maintained and checked regularly
- Take precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces
- Have 3 points of contact at all times whilst on a ladder. This is not limited to two feet and one hand, it can be two feet and your body (use your knees or chest to help with stability)
- Consider emergency evacuation and rescue procedures
- Do not overload ladders
- Do not overreach on ladders or stepladders
- Do not rest a ladder against weak upper surfaces, e.g. glazing or plastic gutters
- Do not use ladders or stepladders for strenuous or heavy tasks, only use them for light work of short duration (a maximum of 30 minutes at a time)
- Do not let anyone who is not competent (an individual without the skills, knowledge and experience to do the job) work at height
- Do not carry out any work at height in unsuitable weather conditions (e.g. wind, rain or ice)
Choosing the right type of ladder
Choosing the right type of ladder for your needs is very important. The difference between choosing the right and wrong ladder is crucial in terms of your safety when using ladders when working. Having the wrong type of ladder may cause you to stretch when working making you unbalanced and raise you risk of falling off.
The environment you are working in also plays a big part in your ladder choice. If you work in a wet or damp environment you will need gripping rungs and feet on your ladder to stop you and your ladder from slipping.
- Always select the correct ladder for the job. Check the type of product, the working height required and the maximum safe working load.
- Always select a ladder that meets the required standards, if in doubt select a stronger product.
Disclaimer: The information provided through Greenham Pulse is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Greenham Pulse is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.