Stepladders: 10 tips for working safely
Posted on 24th Jul, 2015 | By Lorretta Tatham
Working safely on ladders and step ladders is one topic we like to cover regularly on the Browns Ladders blog. With falls from a step ladder or ladder accounting for a third of all falls from a height, the importance of working safely can’t be reinforced enough.
In fact, on average, falls from ladders and step ladders account for 14 deaths and 1200 major injuries every year. With this in mind, we’re handing out some safety advice on not just how to avoid falls, but also how to work on your step ladder safely.
- As with all access equipment, the first step in safe working is to make sure the equipment in good working condition and set up correctly. Things you should look out for include:
- Ensuring the step ladder is fully open and level before using
- Ensuring all braces and catches are correctly in place
- Ensuring the platform step is locked in place, if applicable
- Avoid standing on the top step of the ladder – unless a platform is provided for this purpose. The top step of a swing back step ladder should not be stood on at all.
- Never use step ladders near electricity – make sure your ladders are positioned away from electrical cables or sources. Aluminium, which is the common material used for step ladders, conducts electricity and could lead to fatalities if positioned near electricity. If you know you’re going to be working in electrical areas, use a fibreglass step ladder instead.
- Maintain three points of contact with your ladder at all time – two feet and a hand. On step ladders where a handhold is not practical, a risk assessment will have to take place to justify if it’s safe or not. Your risk assessment should consider the following:
- Are you carrying out light work?
- Does your work avoid side loading?
- Are you overreaching?
- Are your feet fully supported?
- Can you secure the step ladder in any way?
- Always use step ladders on a firm and even surface. If you’re not sure whether the ground is safe, use a ladder stabiliser accessory, such as our Big Grip Stabiliser, to prevent slipping.
- Avoid using step ladders in rainy or windy weather. Stability is likely to be affected, increasing the risk of slips and falls.
- Never use your step ladder as a work platform or for long periods of time. Step ladders are designed to be used vertically and not horizontally and should only be used for light work, for 30 minutes max.
- Always read the step ladder instructions, making note of the maximum weight allowance. This will help prevent injury by ensuring your ladder is set up and used correctly.
- Don’t overload your ladder. The weight of you and your materials combined should not exceed the weight advised. EN131 classified step ladders can accept up to 150 kg. Class 1 classified stepladders can accept up to 175 kg.
- Refresh your knowledge on working safely on ladders and steps with our safety training course.