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Ladder Association stresses need for safe equipment following prosecution
The average company these days will have any number of health & safety rules in place. But a blatant disregard of obvious safety issues will ultimately result in (at least) a hefty fine following prosecution.
This is the response from the Ladder Association following the prosecution of a builder's merchant in Birmingham for numerous work-at-height issues relating in particular to ladder equipment found in a terrible and life threatening condition. The Association says that national schemes such as the currently running Ladder Exchange are vital in promoting safety among ladder users and stockists.
The safety policy of the prosecuted Birmingham company required that it checked for compliance with site rules every week, inspected its ladders every six months and destroyed those which could not be properly repaired. Yet despite these rules, health & safety officials found nine ladders in conditions which would have been life-threatening if used. The truth was that the required checks were not being carried out and users were being put at an immediate risk of serious injury.
The defects to these ladders were substantial and included missing or damaged feet, extensively damaged or twisted rungs and cut down, twisted or damaged uprights.
The builder's merchant was fined £8,205 including costs for breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
"In this day and age people naturally expect a good standard of safety wherever they go," says The Ladder Association's Chairman, Cameron Clow. "But these ladders were in such a terrible state that officials could tell simply by looking at them that no inspections were being carried out.
"People must ensure that any ladder equipment they use in the workplace is safe and fit for use.
"Through programmes like our current Ladder Exchange, we hope to further reduce the number of dangerous ladders in use around the country, and ensure that people never have to work with equipment in this state."
The Ladder Exchange is a way to raise awareness of unsafe ladders through a national campaign, and to incentivise firms to do something about the state of their ladders with the help of discount offers. If firms are encouraged in this way, it is hoped that more will act before they are forced to do so by health & safety investigations, or worse, someone is injured or killed.
Despite a steady decline, falls from height remain the most common kind of workplace fatality. In 2010/11, a total of 38 workers died and 4,327 employees suffered a major injury as a result of a fall from height in the workplace, with a further 10,232 employees suffering an 'over three day' injury. Many of these incidents could have been avoided by people with the right training using the correct equipment that had been properly inspected and maintained.
The Ladder Association is the trade body responsible for advancing safety and best practice in the ladder industry, and oversees the delivery of national training. Formed in 1947 by leading ladder manufacturers, it has since expanded to welcome members from every part of the access industry, playing an integral role in promoting the highest standards of ladder design and manufacture, and advancing best practice in ladder use.
With its focus on training, and its recent move to take over the Health & Safety Executive's Ladder Exchange scheme, the Association is a vibrant, forward-looking organisation determined to look after the best interests of its increasingly diverse membership base and, of course, the industry at large.
Caption: dangerous ladder from the scene
18th October 2012