The Ladder of Success

Today there is a whole range of equipment available to work safely from height - MEWPS, scissor lifts, podiums, cherry pickers and scaffolding, all of which have their uses. But let's hear it for the humble ladder,after all ladders have been in use for hundreds of years. We don’t climb the scaffold of success and Jacob didn't ascend to heaven on a MEWP.

When the Work at Height Regulations (WAHR) were introduced in 2005, a persistent rumour circulated that they banned the use of ladders. Some companies took the step of completely outlawing ladders from the shop floor and getting employees to use alternative WFH platforms. However, when the right training and inspection routines have been put in place, the humble ladder is a key piece of WFH equipment. The HSE “Safe use of Ladders and Stepladders” Guide points out ladders can be a sensible and practical option for low-risk, short-duration tasks.

Ironically, the simplicity of the ladder has been it's downfall (excuse the pun), as the assumption is made that everybody knows how to use a ladder, right?. Wrong. As the legendary "Idiots on Ladders" Competition shows, this relatively simple piece of equipment can be lethal if handled with a cavalier attitude to personal safety.

As such, the HSE advise appropriate training to ensure you have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to use a ladder properly for the work you will carry out. Additionally, before starting a task, you should always carry out a ‘pre-use’ check to spot any obvious visual defects to make sure the ladder is safe to use. Click here to to see our free Ladder Safety Check poster from our free poster range.

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