Week 2 Safety Before The First Step
Ladders are routinely involved in fall injuries at home and the workplace. If you have just purchased your new ladders, don’t assume they are safe to work from, especially if you have ordered them over the internet. The packaging could hide carrier damage, so inspect them promptly upon receipt.
Inspect your ladders to ensure they are in good condition after you use them, before storing them away, and again before each use.
When inspecting your ladder, we recommend you check the following. This list is not exhaustive but it includes common problems you may find with your access equipment:
- damaged or worn feet (these should be easy to replace and available from the manufacturer)
- for wobble on step ladders
- broken top caps on step ladders
- missing or loose steps or rungs
- loose screws, bolts or nuts
- worn, loose or faulty components such as guides, rung hooks or locks
- cracks and exposed fibreglass in fibreglass ladders
- dented or cracked stiles, braces, steps or rungs
- check that spreader bars, locking devices, hinges, springs, or ropes are working properly
- missing identification labels
The Work at Height Regulations mandate regular inspection of ladders and stepladders by a competent person. It is the employer’s responsibility to carry out written inspections, and we recommend these are scheduled as follows, depending on frequency of usage:
- Frequent (daily usage) inspect every three months
- Occasional (weekly usage) inspect every six months
- Infrequent (monthly usage or less) inspect every twelve months
Remember to carry out an informal visual and functional check every time you use a ladder, checking for obvious defects. If you identify a fault, stay safe and quarantine the ladder before seeking further action to remedy the situation.
Set-Up (Leaning Ladders)
When you position the ladder, use the 4:1 rule, where for every 4 feet or metres in total height, the base is brought out by 1 foot/metre. This will result in a 70 to 75-degree climbing angle which is the optimum setup to safely climb your ladder. There are three main points to consider when setting up leaning ladders as follows:
- Keep the ladder level. Ladders are designed for use on level ground, which is not always easy around the house or on-site. If the ground conditions are not level, you will need to use an accessory or built-in device such as the Sumo Outriggers on our Hyperlite ladders to compensate.
- Secure the ladder. Wherever possible, tie the ladder to a suitable secure point at the base or near the top. If this is not practical, consider an appropriate safety device considering the ground conditions. The Ladder Association only recommends footing a ladder as the least effective last resort.
- Condition of wall or resting surface – ensure that the wall or resting surface is strong enough to safely support the weight of ladder and user. An accessory such as a stand off will hold the ladder clear of PVC guttering for example, and the additional width of the unit will make the ladder less liable to a flip type loss of stability.
Set-Up (Step Ladders)
These are our top three tips when using a step ladder:
- Ensure all of the feet are engaged with the ground, and it is dry, flat, and secure enough to support yourself and the ladder safely. Make sure that people around you are aware that you are working at height, and cordon off the area too.
- Position the stepladder, so you are face on to work. The length of a stepladder footprint is always much longer than the width of the stepladder footprint. For this reason, when you are face on to the step, you will be far more stable than if you are working sideways on.
- Always fully open and lock your stepladders into position. Nearly all steps must be set out in this position, and are not designed to be used flat against the wall as a leaning ladder. If you need to use your step as a leaning ladder, then you should choose one designed to be used in this way. The Little Giant King Kombo stepladder has a rubber wall pad to grip the wall when used as a leaning ladder, and the wall pad also doubles up by rotating and locking into two corner points to position the step into and onto the corners of walls.
Finally, if you are using ladders and step ladders in the workplace, ensure they are rated for professional use. If you are looking for new ladders or stepladders for use in a commercial environment, they should be manufactured to the EN 131 Professional standard.
Alternatively, view our range of training courses, and get yourself or your team trained today: