Ladders are a fairly common piece of equipment for plumbing and heating contractors and according to the Health & Safety Executive, falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in Great Britain.
Just recently a company was fined £1 million after the death of an electrician from a step-ladder fall. In view of this the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) is reminding plumbing and heating employers and operatives to take precautions and follow the Health & Safety Executive’s recommended practices when working at height.
John Thompson, CEO of APHC, explained: “If you are an employer and your employees have to work at height or you contract others to work at height then The Work at Height Regulations 2005, which are designed to prevent death and injury caused by a fall from height, apply to you.
“In light of a recent fatal step-ladder fall by an electrical contractor, I felt it pertinent to remind plumbing and heating employers and their operatives to follow a number of simple practices when working with ladders.
“Firstly, employers should avoid working at height where possible. Where this isn’t an option, employers need to ensure that each ladder they use meets the specified British and European certification standards. They need to ensure that all work carried out on ladders is properly planned through conducting a risk assessment, and that necessary precautions are taken to reduce the risk of falling which can include reducing the time spent working on a ladder or using a platform as an alternative.
“Employers and employees should always carry out pre-use checks on their ladders such as checking the locking mechanisms, rungs and feet. It’s common sense but, ladders need to be used in accordance with their instructions and users need to understand the limitations and performance of the ladder for things like strength and bending. Employer’s also need to ensure that their ladders are stored well, transported carefully and maintained and cleaned as dirt and grit can affect locking mechanisms.
“And let’s not forget that employees have a responsibility to follow instruction, and keep themselves and other people safe, something which should be reiterated on a regular basis.”
According to the Health & Safety Executive’s ‘Kinds of accident in Great Britain, 2016’ report:
- In 2015/16 there were 37 fatalities to workers as a result from a fall from height, which accounted for just over a quarter of all fatal work related injuries.
- There was an annual average of 37,000 workplace injuries resulting from a fall from height between 2013 and 2016.
- If someone is injured by falling from a height, on average they will be off work for 9.4 days.
Further information about the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and on safe working practices, readers can consult the HSE website.