Safety Spotlight: Working at Height & Ladder Safety

As part of July’s Hazard of the Month, Working at Height, we’re highlighting two key areas: Working at Height and Ladder Safety.

Working at Height

Worker working at height on scaffoldingWorking at height is one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries in the workplace, with 25% of all worker deaths in 2020/21 being caused by falls from a height. Even falls from less than 2m high can result in serious or even fatal injury – therefore understanding how to work at height safely is absolutely essential.

As per the Working at Height Regulations 2005, all working at height tasks must be properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people who have the necessary knowledge, experience and skills. The correct equipment must be used and regularly inspected and maintained, and the risks should be assessed.

If possible, working at height should be avoided altogether – however if you must work at height, you should use equipment to minimise the distance and consequences of falling, and use an existing place of work or the correct equipment to prevent falls.

When working at height, you should always:

  • ensure workers can get safely to and from where they work at height
  • avoid overloading ladders
  • ensure equipment is checked and maintained regularly
  • ensure equipment is stable, strong, and suitable for the job – do not rest ladders against weak upper surfaces
  • avoid overreaching on ladders or stepladders
  • avoid use ladders or stepladders for strenuous or heavy tasks, or tasks for longer than 30 minutes
  • provide protection from falling objects
  • ensure workers are competent and properly trained
  • consider emergency evacuation and rescue procedures

Make sure your workers have a proper awareness of working at height regulations and best practices with our Working at Height Awareness Course. This course is suitable for any workers who are likely to be working at heights during their day to day activities. Get 10% off this course with the code ‘height10’!

Ladder Safety

Infographic of parts of the ladder to checkIn some situations ladders can be a sensible and practical option for low-risk, short-duration work at height tasks when a risk assessment has shown that using equipment that offers a higher level of fall protection is not justified. However, risk must considered at the forefront when deciding if ladder use is acceptable, not the duration of the task.

Ladders should only be used when it can be secured and used on a level and stable surface.

You should only use a ladder if you are competently trained, or under the supervision of a competent person if still in training. Training for ladder safety should include:

  • how to assess the risks of using a ladder for a particular task
  • when it is right to use a ladder (and when it is not)
  • which type of ladder to use and how to use it

Ladders also need to be checked before use – a pre-use check should be carried out by the person using the ladder at the beginning of the working day, and after something has changed.

The checks should cover:

  • the stiles – check if they are bent or damaged
  • the feet – check if they are missing, worn or damaged, and check them when moving from soft/dirty ground to a smooth, solid surface (eg paving slabs), to make sure the actual feet and not the dirt are making contact with the ground
  • the rungs – check if they are bent, worn, missing or loose
  • any locking mechanism – check the mechanism is working properly
  • the stepladder platform – check if it is split or buckled
  • the steps or treads on stepladders – check if they are contaminated or if the fixings are loose on the steps

Ensure your workers understand how to select, transport and use ladders correctly with our Ladder Safety Course. This course is suitable for any employee whose role includes working at height. Get 10% off this course with the code ‘height10’!

Working at Height and Ladder Safety are essential tools in ensuring your workers are able to work at height safely. Make sure you don’t miss out on our 10% off deal on these courses, available until the end of July. Simply enter the code ‘height10’ at checkout to save!

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