Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Working at height - ladders

Some people mistakenly believe that ladders and step-ladders are banned under the work at height regulations. This is not the case. However, it is important to recognise that people die every year falling from ladders, and so their use needs to be controlled.

* Ladders and step-ladders can be used if after assessing the risks the use of more suitable work equipment is not justified because of the low risk and short duration.
* Short duration is taken to be less than 30 minutes
* They should only be used for light work (less than 10kg)
* Ladders can also be used for low risk work where there are features on the site that mean a ladder must be used.

Precautions for using ladders include:

* Ladder angle 75o – 1 in 4 rule (1 unit out for every 4 units up)
* Always grip the ladder when climbing
* Do not overreach
* Do not work off the top three rungs – this provides a handhold
* Carry out daily pre-use check (feet included)
* Ensure there is space to fully open the ladder
* Use any locking devices
* Ground should be firm and level
* Floors should be clean, not slippery

Precautions for using step ladders include:
* Do not work off the top two steps unless you have a safe handhold on the steps
* Avoid side-on working
* Do not overreach


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