Be safe with fixed ladders as well as portable ones

Posted on 22nd Mar, 2012 | By Lorretta Tatham

Portable ladders cause around 1200 major injuries each year, including a few deaths.

Up until the Work at Height Regulations appeared in 2005, they were not maintained properly and people were inadequately trained and equipped in ladder safety.

Now there are active campaigns to prevent injuries from portable ladders so, thankfully, the number of injuries are declining slowly.

There is, however, an even safer way to ensure safety when working from height – by using fixed ladders.

A fixed ladder is a simple concept. It is affixed to a building, chimney or the back of a van so that it is not portable.

You will likely see them as access points to rooftops inside buildings, but they also appear on things like radio masts and industrial machines.

They are usually made from steel, but they are sometimes made from wood or alloy.

There are some with hoops, some with fall-arrest wire systems and some that are rarely used and rusting.

Unfortunately, the creators of the Work at Height Regulations seem to have information missed about them.

The Working at Height Regulations do not really mention fixed ladders at all.

Fixed ladders are seen as slightly safer, but there is hardly any guidance on using them.

In the HSE’s guide to the safe use of ladders and stepladders it specifically says that ‘this guidance does not apply to fixed ladders’.

There are hardly any insights into to how use them or if there are any regulations at all.

From what there is to interpret about fixed ladder safety, we know that:

Fixed ladders do have some guidelines that insist on fall protection.

If you climb a fixed ladder and it already has a fall-protection system you should use it simply because its supplied Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and workers must to use what they’re given.

Visit the ladder product pages for more information.

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