A third of all falls from height in the workplace occur when using a ladder according to the Health and Safety Executive and within the construction industry it accounts for 45% of fatalities each year.
Businesses are also now seeing huge penalties as a result of accidents, with a £1 million landmark fine recently being issued to a bakery following the tragic death of a self-employed contractor who fell from a stepladder.
Most recently a leading British supermarket chain was issued with a fine of £2.5 million after breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 when a contractor was fatally injured due to a fall from height.
So with this renewed focus on ladder safety training within the sector, here at WernerCo we are now urging all businesses to ensure that all employees or sub-contractors using work at height equipment are fully trained and competent to do so.
For construction professionals, working at height can often be a daily occurrence, and uptake of our ladder user training courses is good. However, outside of the construction sector, take up dramatically decreases. The recent news that a Hull-based bakery company has received a landmark £1 million fine for a tragic stepladder fatal accident is further proof that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the importance of safety training when using work at height equipment.
Most people are surprised that ladder training is necessary after all, anyone can use a ladder, but using them safely is a different matter. As statistics for injuries and fatalities caused by falls from height show, all businesses need to ensure anyone working at height has not only the appropriate equipment, but that they are also using it safely and correctly.
In most cases, it is rarely the equipment that is at fault, and accidents will usually occur due to user error such as overreaching or not choosing the right equipment for the job in hand. By failing to address the fact that an accident may occur, businesses are putting themselves at risk of a serious fine or, in the worst-case scenario, being responsible for a fatality.
We would urge all employers and businesses across manufacturing, processing and engineering sectors to ensure that anyone using ladders or stepladders has completed Ladder Association accredited training before tackling any job at height.
Deaths from falls could be preventable and accredited training sessions such as the ones offered by WernerCo provide a focused environment to demonstrate proper safety techniques.
The half-day courses cost less than £100 so there really is no excuse for businesses not to find the time or money to send staff onto them, especially given the consequence of not doing so could prove fatal.
WernerCo holds regular training sessions at both its Burton upon Trent and Maldon facilities, to provide the practical knowledge required to use ladders and stepladders safely and correctly in the workplace.
Those who complete the course are issued with a LadderCard to demonstrate their competence when working with ladders. Courses comprise practical and theory assessments, covering when and how to choose and use, how to handle and how to store a ladder, as well as how to highlight potential hazards. For inspectors, delegates can learn how to assess and determine when it is appropriate to inspect a ladder or stepladder, and how to recommend the correct action if faults are found. The inspector course is for those who have already received their initial user training and are already in possession of a LadderCard.
Paul Bruton is Product Development Director at WernerCo.