Top 5 safety tips when working with ladders
Feb 11, 2022
With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to find the best ladder for the job. It may not appear that the type of work at height equipment you use is particularly important and that any ladder would do, but this is not always the case. Ladders are a common everyday tool and Gurjeev Bola, Product Manager for WernerCo, shares the best tips to help painters and decorators save time, money and energy when working at height.
Following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, over the past year the demand for painting and decorating professionals’ services has remained high and continues into 2022. From choosing equipment to using equipment, it remains essential that professionals always maintain best practice when it comes to working at height.
While working on ladders might feel like second nature, it can be easy to overlook simple yet vital safety practices when carrying out everyday jobs. Falls from height account for the majority of workplace accidents with an estimated 38,000 non-fatal injuries to workers each year, therefore, it’s crucial that professionals follow best practice guidelines to make working at height both easier and safer.
Choose the right equipment for the job
Always invest in quality
Utilise handy ladder accessories
Be aware of the latest industry regulations
Ensure equipment inspections are carried out accordingly
Work at Height Regulations 2005 prohibits overstretching or standing above the ladder’s recommended working height, therefore, choosing the correct sized product for the job is imperative for working at height safety.
When considering the choice of ladder type it’s important to ensure its right for the application, for example, while step ladders offer more stability on uneven ground than extension ladders, in some cases, another working at height solution may need to be considered. An adjustable work platform can be used to carry out the job safely if a ladder isn't suitable, due to the flexible height adjustment and sturdiness they offer.
Ladders also come in a variety of materials for different applications and selecting the right one for the job is critical for staying as safe as possible. Aluminium and fibreglass are the two most common materials used in the construction of ladders. Fibreglass ladders provide a non-conductive work at height solution for working in electrical environments, while aluminium is lightweight and strong.
When purchasing any equipment for a job that involves risk, it is always advised to invest in high-quality products that are sourced from reputable and trusted manufacturers. Cheaper tools may not have been tested to the same standards as a certified and trusted manufacturer, therefore, may not guarantee the same level of safety.
Similarly, the same precautions should be taken with buying second-hand equipment. While the cheaper price may be tempting, buying any used safety equipment is always a risk, particularly if you don’t know the product’s history, how it has been stored or if it has had any previous repairs or damages. Having to replace cheap or second-hand equipment more frequently is also costly, so it is always advised to invest in quality to guarantee longevity as well as safety.
Working at height with your hands full can be dangerous and time consuming; users run the increased risk of an accident due to imbalance or lack of focus, along with having to spend unnecessary time and labour making trips up and down.
Designed for user convenience, there are a range of handy ladder accessories available to help you carry out the job safely and increase productivity. Purchasing equipment with storage holsters for items such as tool trays and pot holders already installed in your ladder will save you making unnecessary trips up and down while carrying tools, and allow you to focus on the job at hand to work as efficiently as possible.
It can be challenging keeping on top of the latest safety guidelines and work at height regulations, which are continually being reviewed. When purchasing ladders, professionals should only invest in products that meet EN 131 standards. The best way to ensure this is to take the time to research when sourcing products, and make sure that these are purchased only from trusted suppliers whereby products are manufactured to meet the latest industry standards.
When it comes to safe practice, professionals should ensure they always adhere to Work at Height Regulations 2005 and have a clear understanding of their responsibilities as an employer or employee when carrying out work. This could include conducting risk assessments, checking equipment is safe to use, ensuring the job about to be undertaken is safe and that you have the right equipment for the application.
Moreover, as a rule, refresher training every year is highly advised in order to ensure that you understand and are adhering to the current operating safety procedures, especially for those who may carry out jobs from height on an infrequent basis.
While ladders don’t noticeably wear out like other products, the potential faults that can come from age, exposure to the weather elements and excessive use could leave you vulnerable to injury if not checked properly. It is therefore essential that inspections are carried out on equipment before each use to ensure it is safe, and that these are carried out by a professional who can identify problems early on.
The need for inspection and how frequently these are required to occur should be determined through risk assessment on a job-by-job basis. To ensure the correct inspection is carried out, those who use portable ladders should refer to EN 131, which sets out guidelines for the inspection of work at height equipment.
With so many access equipment options available, WernerCo’s step by step guide is available online to help professionals choose the right ladder for the job at hand, and provide reliable solutions with products that are manufactured to the highest industry standards. Additionally, a range of training courses are available at WernerCo to ensure users are confident undertaking the job at hand, which includes Ladder and Stepladder courses for both inspection and users.
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