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Governing Safety: The Most Influential Ladder Legislation

Posted on 30th Jan, 2017 | By Lorretta Tatham

January 2017 is a big year for us at Browns Safety, as it marks our twentieth birthday; that’s two whole decades of continually making things safer for our customers. In that time, we’ve seen some pretty monumental changes come into effect – here are some of the most pivotal laws that govern the way we use ladders in the workplace.

The Introduction of Work at Height Regulations (2005)

Legislation guide

The Working at Height Regulations are one of the most direct influences on ladder use and safety today. Introduced and monitored by the governmental Health and Safety Executive organisation, the regulations lay out some crucial groundwork and clarification for safety. They define the term ‘working at height’ to refer to anyone working above ground or floor level where there is a significant risk to injury – whether this involves falling from a height onto the ground or falling through a hole in the ground to an even lower level.

They also determine best practices to follow before and during the work itself, such as stressing the importance of risk assessment, selection of appropriate equipment, and ensuring the competence of those involved. Additionally, they specify the importance of regular ladder inspections, making certain that the equipment itself is also up to the job. The Work at Height Regulations make a point about the duration of the work having little bearing on the safety involved – thorough risk assessments must always be carried out regardless of how long someone is on the ladder, and proper training is essential.

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations

combination ladder

The clunky name of these regulations is commonly abbreviated to PUWER – it places responsibilities on individuals and organisations who own, operate or otherwise have control over equipment. ‘Work equipment’ in this case is defined as any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work: a definition which most certainly includes ladders. The equipment must be suitable for the intended use, and if it’s not than more appropriate equipment must be obtained before work can begin. These regulations also emphasise the importance of the equipment being frequently maintained, inspected and kept in an overall safe condition. What’s more, it must only be used by individuals who have received sufficient information, training and instruction on how to operate it. They go on to clarify that these measures should be taken in concurrence with any other necessary steps that the situation might call for, and that all risk assessments are carried out extensively. There are numerous additional clauses, one of the most notable being that steps must be taken to control or prevent risks from parts or substances falling from the equipment – which is, again, pertinent to ladder safety in particular.

Ladder Certification Standards

electrician using ladder

As well as maintenance and operation of ladders in the workplace, there are also strict standards on their manufacture, which take the form of the British and European Ladder Certification Standards. These apply to all portable ladder types including extension ladders and platform steps.

At Browns, we take your safety just as seriously as you do. We provide numerous services and training courses to ensure that your physical wellbeing always comes first. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us on 01282 615517.

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