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steps and ladders

How much do you know about working at height and using steps and ladders? Are you sure it’s all true?

If you’re not frequently required to work at height as part of your business, it can be confusing to know what the rules are if you suddenly find you need to. While there is lots of advice out there on using steps and ladders, there’s also a lot of rumours and myths circulating which aren’t necessarily true. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about working at height, to help you understand what you can and can’t do.

You need to be qualified to use steps and ladders

This is not right. There is no formal qualification in existence for using steps and ladders. HSE guidance says you need to be ‘competent’, which could mean attending a training session, or could simply mean reading their guidance or watching a video.

The employee is responsible for their own safety

This is true to a certain extent, but to say it is solely the employee’s responsibility would be wrong. Employers have a duty of care, and must make sure that any work done at height is:

  • Properly planned and organised
  • Undertaken by competent people
  • Risk assessed
  • Risk managed
  • Done with the proper equipment

Employees, of course, have a responsibility to keep themselves out of harm’s way, and to be sensible when using the equipment, but that doesn’t negate these basic employer responsibilities.

A CE mark means it’s the best equipment out there

This is not correct. While a CE mark certainly suggests that the product meets relevant industry standards, it only means it meets the minimum standards. That’s just the start, and doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for the job. Make sure you choose the very best ladder for the individual task you are undertaking, and ensure equipment is thoroughly inspected at least every 12 months.

The working at height regulations only apply if you’re a long way up

Not true. There is no minimum height which means you are ‘working at height’, and the classification is more to do with the risk of falling and injuring yourself. Whether you’re 30 metres or three feet off the ground, if there is a risk you could fall down and hurt yourself, you should consider it to be working at height. Similarly, if you’re on a solid floor but there is a risk of falling down a hole or opening, this could also be considered as working at height.

The use of steps and ladders is banned

No, it’s not. HSE have suggested that steps and ladders should only be used where it is not feasible to get another piece of equipment (such as a cherry picker) to do the job, or if the duration is too short to warrant its use. HSE suggest you limit using ladders to 30 minutes or less if possible, and where there is a low risk of falling.

Equip4Work have a full range of steps and ladders suitable for a variety of tasks in the workplace. If you need help deciding what’s right for your needs, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

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Last Modified / Updated on: May 31, 2018 at 11:04 am