Safe use of ladders and step ladders

As electrician’s step ladders and ladders are a piece of equipment that we use daily so it’s important to not get complacent about their use its important to remember that a third of all reported fall from height incidents involve ladders and step ladders.

You need to think carefully about what the task is that you’re undertaking, what type of equipment you require and whether you require any additional equipment to ensure safety.

There are a few things to take in to account before starting work:-

  1. Is a ladder/step ladder suitable for the task and are there any other options
  2. As with all work at height you should carry out a risk assessment to decide whether a ladder really is the right equipment for the job. (Working at height is anything that is not standing on the ground)

For example:

Only use a ladder or stepladder in one position for a maximum of 30 minutes;

  • For ‘light work’ tasks. If you need to carry anything greater than 10kg up a ladder, a manual handling risk assessment must be completed in order to justify the work;
  • Where a handhold is available on a ladder or step ladder;
  • If you can maintain three points of contact (hands and feet).
  • If it is the only suitable option

Do not use a ladder or stepladder:

  • If the tasks being performed could unbalance you
  • There is a possibility you could overreach
  • If your weight combined with the weight of anything you are carrying exceed’s the stated maximum weight for the equipment
  • In wet or icy conditions

Pre use checks

Before using your access equipment you must always carry out pre-use checks to see if there are any defects that may prevent safe use. Things to look out for include bent rungs, cracks, missing rungs or tied and the general overall condition of the steps.

Securing a ladder

You need to always make sure the ladder/step ladders are secured properly to eliminate the possibility of it slipping away from the wall. For example.
Make sure the ladder is tied by the stiles not the rungs to a suitable part of the building.

If it is not possible to use the ties a suitable ladder safety device must be used such as Spurs or stand offs to increase the stability of the ladders
Footing a ladder is another option but should be used as a last resort.

What type of ladder should I use?

Once you have decided to use a ladder is the right equipment for the work you want to undertake you must make sure the one you are using is suitable. Ladders have three classifications:-

  1. EN131 Trade, light industrial & commercial usage maximum weight 150kg
  2. BS2037/BS1129 Class 1 Heavy duty and industrial usage maximum weigh 175kg
  3. Class 3 for domestic use only these should never be used on site maximum weight 125kg

Download the HSE Guide to the safe use of ladders & stepladders here

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All of our engineers are trained in ladder safety, working at height and manual handling to ensure the safety of our staff and clients

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