Do you understand the working at height regulations?

6155900402_3ebacd850b_bAs any good trades person knows, there is a lot of documented evidence available to best explain how to carry out work safely at height. A particular focus on working at height is the safe use of ladders and scaffold towers.

Of course, used incorrectly, ladders can be amongst the most dangerous piece of equipment and used incorrectly can lead to death or serious injury.

Unfortunately a recent prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive involved dangerous use of both a ladder and a scaffold tower which tragically lead to the death of a labourer from South East London.

How did the accident occur?

The labourer had not received any guidance on the safe use of either a ladder or scaffold tower. The building firm which he was carrying out the work for had not provided either a risk assessment or method statement detailing how he was intending to carry out the job which was to fix a leaking roof at a cement works.

The labourer was provided with an incorrectly erected scaffold tower and an untied ladder to access the roof from the building firm and was not briefed in how to competently work on dangerous equipment.

Furthermore the roof was located near to an additional fragile roofed area and no additional safety equipment such as guard rails, suitable working platforms or coverings to prevent a worker falling onto this area.

Falls from height continue to be the biggest reason for workplace fatalities and account for 29% of deaths reported to HSE in 2013/14. In real terms, this means that 19 workers lost their lives in situations that could have been totally avoidable.

Always ensure you are confident before using equipment like this

Firms are legally obligated to ensure that staff using ladders and scaffold towers are correctly briefed before allowing use of them. Workers must receive appropriate training AND be confident in the use of a ladder and scaffold tower before using them.

Never use a ladder or scaffold tower if you do not feel confident in doing so. In this tragic case, it was clear that the labourer was expected to use equipment which were unsafe and totally inappropriate for the job. We will never know if the labourer felt pressurised into using such equipment or that he genuinely did not realise the dangers.

Ladders and Scaffold Towers are a Leading UK Distributor of Ladders, Loft Ladders, Scaffold Towers, Aluminium Ladders, Extension Ladders , Ladder Accessories and all access equipment.

Working safely with ladders in orchards

9909696685_f145d27023_zThe pruning of trees, bushes and even hedges requires use of a ladder. In fact apart from working on a house, garden work is the next most common use for a ladder. Some of our valued customers are keen orchardists and have a thing or two to tell us about ladder safety and how they ensure both their own safety and that of their staff some of whom only work with them for a short time.

Reducing accidents

When working in orchards, the priority is to reduce accidents and and injury. Traditionally orchard work has been precarious in nature with dangerous ladder usage evident. In the past, orchard workers would set up a large ladder next to a tree, scale the ladder, pick the fruit and then descend. They would then move the ladder around the same tree often moving the ladder up to 5 times around a single tree. It comes as no surprise to learn that ladder injuries were a common occurrence.

The work was not only slow and precarious, health and safety briefing was extremely basic. If you were lucky, the orchard foreman might have instructed you to be aware of foot and ladder placement and tell you to be careful but this type of instruction did little to reduce accidents as many orchard workers had little or no experience of using a ladder safely.

Using ladders safely

There is little or no difference between misusing good ladders and properly using bad ladders. Before using a ladder it is essential to feel confident in it’s use. This means both setting it up and actually using it.

The first question to ask is whether a ladder is even needed. Many orchards now are opting for platforms (scaffold towers) as an alternative to ladders. Not only will a scaffold tower increase efficiency, the work is far less likely to cause injury. In fact, injuries from working on platforms are rare.

What ladder should I use?

If your work is smaller scale then a ladder may still be the practical option. Here at BPS Access Solutions, we highly recommend that you do not attempt to position a ladder against the tree trunk of any tree. We recommend using a ladder that is independent of the tree – i.e. one that stands independently in an ‘A frame’ structure. Our combination ladder is an excellent example and is designed for precarious jobs in mind. Our combination ladder is amongst the strongest and safest available on the market today and features a metal retaining brace and auto locking safety clamps.

Always ascend and descend the ladder with both hands on the frame. Never attempt to carry your tools or bucket in one hand. Use a tool belt or hoist your tools up separately. Never over lean or bend down from the ladder to retrieve a dropped tool. Never take risks with ladders. Injuries such as broken bones, injuries to backs, the pelvis or even death can occur from ladder misuse.

The benefits of a scaffold tower

Using a scaffold tower can alleviate many of the issues found with ladder work. If you are working across a larger area, you will not need to keep descending the ladder in order to move it to the next work area. Tools and equipment can be stored safely on the platform and you can walk freely in the work area without risk of injury to your feet or danger of over leaning. Scaffold towers are both rigid and stable and you do not need to worry about balancing on a ladder.
If you are finding a ladder hard work and you need to make faster progress, then a scaffold tower is likely to be a better option for you.

Always remember safety first

Regardless of whether you opt for a ladder or a scaffold tower, it is essential that you don’t use either of them unless you feel confident.

Ladders and Scaffold Towers are a Leading UK Distributor of Ladders, Loft Ladders, Scaffold Towers, Aluminium Ladders, Extension Ladders , Ladder Accessories and all access equipment.