Key steps to safely use a stepladder or ladder
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has reported that, in a single year, 697 people were hurt in an accident that involved falling from a ladder.
Many people consider correct ladder use to be a simple matter of opening the ladder or leaning it against a wall. When using a ladder without supervision and proper precautions, however, you risk falling and sustaining an injury in a ladder accident.
What should you do to prevent accidents and injury?
Before setting up and stepping on to the ladder, you should fully plan out your work. Ask yourself the following:
- What will your work involve?
- What tools you will need?
- What protective clothing or equipment should be worn?
You should also choose the most suitable ladder for the job.
Although it may appear cheaper and easier to use the ladder you have to hand rather than the ladder you need, incorrect ladder use can make a job longer, harder and more dangerous.
The most common types of ladder include:
- En131: these ladders are designed to be used by tradesmen, or in a work setting. The maximum weight of any equipment or materials you can use in conjunction with this ladder is 150Kg.
- BS2037/BS1129 Class 1: these are suited to heavy use within an industrial setting, and should be used with a maximum weight of 175Kg.
- Class 3: this group of ladders are intended for use in the home, and should not be used with any weight over 125Kg.
Before beginning any work with a ladder, you should check the ladder for signs that it may be defective. Look for:
- Steps or rungs that are cracked or loose
- Whether the platform at the top of the ladder appears to be in any way unstable
- Any signs of wear or tear on the feet of the ladder; this will affect the ladder's stability
- Any parts of that ladder, including bolts and fixings, that appear to be loose or damaged
What should you do if the ladder is defective?
If the ladder is obviously defective and you use it anyway, claiming compensation from the retailer you bought ladder from, or from the manufacturer could be difficult.
If, on the other hand, you checked the ladder before use and the defect was hidden, a defective product claim for injuries arising from the defect has a good chance of success.
Safely positioning the ladder
You should ensure that the ladder you are using is secured into position, both at the top and bottom. The rungs should never be used as a means of securing or stabilising your ladder. If you are unable to secure the ladder to the surface on which it is resting, you should use some kind of stabilising device, such as a ladder spur. These spurs should only be used with training and supervision.
What else can go wrong?
If you use a ladder that is not fit for purpose, it is possible that you could fall and sustain an injury. If you are bearing a load that exceeds the safety requirements of the ladder, it may collapse, causing you to fall and hurt yourself.
When planning your work, it is important to take into consideration whether or not it could throw you off balance. Using a drill, for example, could cause you to lose your footing.
If you have sustained an injury and believe you may have a claim for compensation, contact Quittance for more information on 0800 612 7456.
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.