Warren Access

When Using A Ladder To Work At Height Is Dangerous

July 04, 2018

When needing to carry out work at height, ladders are often the first thought. Yet, despite their supposed convenience and simplicity, they are the cause of numerous avoidable accidents, many of which are fatal. They are dangerous, and while not banned under Health and Safety law, they are rarely the safest option and are only deemed appropriate if a risk assessment determines that the job is low enough risk and of short enough duration not to warrant the use of safer equipment.

There are many situations where using a ladder is dangerous. Below are six situations to look out for, but if you need advice from experts about what equipment is best suited to your job, contact us; we are always happy to help.

  1. When you haven’t had appropriate training

Before using a ladder to work at height, you need to be competent and understand how to use it safely. There are a range of ladders to choose from and certain guidelines to adhere to, so it is easy to get wrong if you don’t know what you are doing, and it can be extremely dangerous.

  1. When a ladder can’t provide appropriate access

When using a ladder, you need to make sure you have the right ladder for the job and that it provides the access you require. Leaning ladders should be placed at an angle of 75? and extend at least a metre beyond where you are working; If you can’t reach where you need with the ladder set-up correctly or you are forced to overstretch, then it isn’t safe to use a ladder. There are plenty of other options available to you, such as van and truck mounted platforms, scissor lifts, self-propelled booms and tracked boom lifts, all of which offer a safer alternative for those hard to reach jobs.

  1. When the ladder is damaged

Ladders are only safe to use if they are clean and in good condition, so the feet are not worn or dirty, the rungs are intact and not bent, broken or missing, and the locking mechanisms are working as they should. Damaged or dirty ladders massively increase the risk of falling so should be avoided. Prior to using any ladder, conduct a pre-check and repeat if something changes, for example, if the ladder is dropped or moved to a new area with a different surface.

  1. When you’re going to be working at height for long periods of time.

While work duration is not the determining factor, Health and Safety guidelines suggest that if you are going to be working at height for more than 30 minutes, a ladder is not appropriate and you should consider other access options.

  1. When conditions mean you can’t use a ladder safely

To be used safely, ladders need be positioned on stable, flat ground, secured in place and leaning against a solid wall.  They must also be out the way of hazards such as doors and windows that could knock them over, out of the path of vehicles and away from the public that could both create a hazard or be injured during an accident. If it’s not possible to position the ladder safely, you need to consider other methods.

  1. When your work requires heavy equipment

Whenever you are using a ladder, you need to maintain three points of contact. It’s unsafe to carry heavy tools or materials in your hands while climbing. If your job requires you do so, you either need to wear a tool belt, find other means of transporting your materials or use an alternative access method that is better suited to your needs and environment.

Every working at height situation is unique and while this should give you an idea of when using a ladder is dangerous, if you are unsure about the best equipment to use for your job, you should seek advice from experts like us; it is better to be safe than sorry.

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