Avoid the shock of electrical accidents
Jun 12, 2020
Whenever carrying out electrical work, it is crucial that tradesmen are using suitable products to ensure their personal safety to the reduce risk of injury. Here, Jamie Brassington, Product Manager at WernerCo discusses the key benefits of fibreglass that electrical engineers should be aware of.
Each year around 1,000 accidents at work involving electric shock or burns are reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Despite being what, to many, may seem an obvious consideration, there are still tradesmen who either don’t use non-conductive ladders or who aren’t supplied with one by their employer.
According to the HSE, most electrical accidents occur because people are carrying out electrical work without adequate training or access to appropriate equipment to prevent injury. When not supplied with suitable equipment, electrical engineers are left at a higher risk of experiencing shocks that are conducted by traditional aluminium ladders.
The benefits of fibreglass
When it comes to working around electricity, tradesmen should always avoid a metal ladder. Whilst many will turn to a wooden ladder in this circumstance, a fibreglass alternative can often be just as suitable, if not more so.
One of the main benefits of fibreglass ladders is the fact that they are designed with non-conductive stiles, which means the risk of shock can be avoided, making them an essential for anyone undertaking electrical contracting jobs or for domestic electrical works.
For all electrical work, use of fibreglass ladders in spark-risk environments is a necessity that should not be ignored. Use of aluminium for such work, whilst not illegal, is highly risky and could result in a shock or even death for installers. Why then, if the risk is so high don’t more electricians use fibreglass today and why has uptake in the UK been relatively slow compared to our American counterparts?
In the US, over 50% of all ladders sold across all trades and construction industries are fibreglass. Despite current UK sales figures being lower than in US markets, WernerCo’s UK sales have been rising year-on-year since the company launched its fibreglass range in the UK nearly 20 years ago, as more electricians and tradesmen shift away from traditional materials.
Not only is fibreglass a good solution for working around electricity but the material is also extremely resistant to weathering and does not absorb moisture, making it ideal when working in wet or damp environments. Regular contact with water and chemicals is likely for tradesmen, so it’s wise to minimise the risk of long-term damage by choosing fibreglass rather than aluminium ladders. The material is also non-marking, warmer to the touch and retains its smooth surface throughout its lifetime.
Choosing your ladder
When purchasing a fibreglass ladder, electrical engineers should ensure they are choosing a reputable manufacturer in order to guarantee the quality of the product, as cheaper imports may not be as safe or thoroughly tested. For example, some of the leading models on the market feature rails made using a proprietary pultrusion process, which creates a seven-layer construction, resulting in a strong and uniform product. Additionally, any fibreglass ladder should be approved to the latest EN131 standard to certify its use for professional work.
WernerCo manufactures a comprehensive range of fibreglass ladders. Under the reputable Youngman brand is a choice of trade and industrial-standard platform and swingback stepladders, and a comprehensive selection of utility extension ladders.
Youngman’s ‘rung-to-rail’ connection, featured on its extension ladder range, minimises the risk of twisting upon ascent, while a special edge moulded brace and footpad combination on its stepladders range enhances bracing strength and protects the base tread from damage if the ladder is dropped.
To aid productivity, there are fibreglass extension ladders available with D-shaped rungs and safe storage for tools and other equipment. Additionally, certain stepladder models, such as the Youngman S400 swingback and platform stepladder, are designed with a holster top. This allows tradesmen to keep tools organised and within easy reach, whilst minimising trips up and down the ladder helping to reduce the risks of accidents.
As manufacturers continue to develop their fibreglass offering and create informative materials for tradesmen, it is important that electrical engineers make use of the tools and equipment available to them. By doing so, these non-conductive alternatives will help to create a safer working environment and reduce the number of accidents reported each year.
T: 0121 454 9707
T: 0121 454 9707