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Ladder Association responds to recent HSE prosecution
A recent prosecution has again highlighted the importance of ensuring work at height is properly planned, supervised and carried out by a competent person.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive found that the incident could have been prevented if the work at height hierarchy had been followed in the planning process and if appropriate equipment had been provided to the employee.
In this specific case, the risk assessment should have identified that the work was not short duration and as a result, ladders were not the most appropriate equipment to use.
The court at Wellingborough, Northants, heard that a painter and decorator sustained serious, life-changing injuries after falling from height while setting up ladders to paint the exterior windows and soffit boards of a private property. The fall resulted in the employee being permanently paralysed from the chest down.
The painting contractor pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order, 160 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £2,124.28 with a surcharge of £85.
In response to this prosecution, the Ladder Association - the not-for-profit lead industry body dedicated to promoting the safe use of ladders and stepladders - is urging all ladder users - and those responsible for managing the safe use of ladders, to put ladder training at the top of their height safety agenda.
"Ladders can be a sensible and practical option for low risk and short duration tasks (maximum 30 minutes), but they shouldn't automatically be your first choice," warns Dennis Seaton, chair of the Association's Training Committee.
"The law states that ladders can be used for work at height when a risk assessment has shown that using equipment offering a higher level of fall protection is not justified because of the low risk and short duration of use; or there are existing workplace features which cannot be altered.
"Unfortunately, this case highlights the devastating effect a lack of planning can have on using the right type of equipment for working at height. Here at the Ladder Association, we strongly believe training is an important contribution in keeping people safe when working at height and that training is about more than just using the ladder; it's about understanding when it's right to use a ladder (and importantly when it's not), choosing the right ladder and then understanding the simple steps to take to use the ladder safely.
"Falls from height remain one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities and injuries - accounting for 40 fatalities in 2018/2019* - with many injuries having life-changing consequences for the victim and their families.
"As businesses face record fines for failing to keep workers safe, the Ladder Association continues to raise awareness of the need for ladder training through our 'Get a Grip' on ladder safety campaign. The campaign message is clear - when it's right to use a ladder, use the right ladder and get trained to use it safely."
23rd January 2020