The purpose we use ladders is a simple one so you think that using something so straightforward to use would be quite simple as well. Some people claim the ladder was invented before the wheel so after thousands of years of trying how is it that up and down the country many people still misuse and misunderstand adders on a daily basis.
On average 36 people a year die at work falling from ladders and nearly 40,000 suffer major injuries, with more than a quarter of all falls from height being from ladders. These tragedies can easily be avoided. The answer lies in learning how to choose the right ladder, not using one that’s damaged, knowing how to properly set one up and working safely while you off the ground.
Before you use your ladder check it carefully for defects. Don’t use your ladder if it has any dents or splits and ensure that all of the feet are present and don’t need replacing.
When choosing the right ladder for the job, look carefully at the surface conditions make sure you have a levelling and anti slip device on hand to secure it if required. If you don’t have a device recommended by the manufacturer then you will have to secure the ladder to the adjacent wall or have someone foot the ladder as a last resort.
With extension ladders, the base and upper sections must maintain some overlap for support. So you will lose about a metre from the top of the ladder. The top rungs must also extend at least metre above the upper edge of a roof or elevated destination for safe access and hand-held support.
Other key considerations are the “Load Rating” which determines how much weight a ladder will safely support and the type of material from which a ladder is made. There are three recognised ratings in the UK; however other standards are available so check with the manufacturer if you are in doubt.
The maximum vertical static load to be applied to a piece of equipment.
- BS2037 Class 1 – maximum static vertical load 175kg (27.5 stone)
- EN131 – maximum static vertical load 150kg (23.5 stone)
- EN14183 – maximum static vertical load 150kg (23.5 stone)
- BS2037 Class 3 – maximum static vertical load 125kg (19.5 stone)
These ratings are found on labels placed on the side of the ladders.
Remember, that even a perfectly good and correctly chosen ladder can still be extremely unsafe if not used properly. Be sure that stepladder legs are fully extended, that hinges are locked into place and that the feet are level and firmly planted. With extension ladders, always place the bottom feet one-fourth the height of the ladder away from the wall.
With stepladders, never stand on the very top cap, which usually reads: “This is not a step” (for good reason) or on the very first step below the top cap. With extension ladders, never stand on or above the third rung form the top.
If you need any further help or advice please call our sales team on 029 2132 0000. Additional training material themed from the popular TV show the Simpsons is available to help you develop in house training courses or we provide accredited Ladder Association training where required.
More information can also be found on our #LadderSafetyMonth pages.