Avoid the shock of electrical accidents
Aug 27, 2020
Specifying the right tools and equipment that guarantee user safety is paramount when working on electrical projects, particularly where contractors are working at height. Here, Jamie Brassington, Product Manager at WernerCo, discusses the key benefits of fibreglass ladders and why electricians should make them an essential part of their toolkit.
Each year, a significant number of accidents at work involving electric shock or burns are reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Of these, it’s found that most electrical accidents occur because people are carrying out electrical work without adequate training or access to appropriate equipment to prevent injury.
When working at height, it’s not just important that electricians are aware of how to safely use a ladder to avoid the risk of slips and falls, they also need to be aware of the right type of ladder they should be using. If suitable equipment is not used, electrical engineers leave themselves at a higher risk of experiencing shocks that are conducted by traditional aluminium ladders.
Now, with more tradesmen having to social distance whilst working, any serious or fatal injury may not be identified as quickly. Consequently, having access to and knowledge of the right tools for the task at hand, such as a fibreglass ladder, has become more important than ever.
The benefits of fibreglass
When it comes to working around electricity, tradesmen should always avoid a metal ladder and opt for a fibreglass alternative instead. One of the main benefits of fibreglass ladders is the fact that they are designed with non-conductive stiles, which means the risk of shock is reduced, making them essential for anyone undertaking electrical contracting jobs or for domestic electrical works.
For all electrical work, use of fibreglass ladders in spark-risk environments is a necessity that should not be ignored. Use of aluminium for such work, whilst not illegal, is highly risky and could result in a shock or even death for installers. Why then, if the risk is so high, don’t more electricians use fibreglass today and why has uptake in the UK been relatively slow compared to our American counterparts?
In the US, over 50% of all ladders sold across all trades and construction industries are fibreglass. Despite current UK sales figures being lower than in US markets, WernerCo’s UK sales have been rising year-on-year since the company launched its fibreglass range in the UK nearly 20 years ago, as more electricians and tradesmen shift away from traditional materials.
Not only is fibreglass a good solution for working around electricity but the material is also extremely resistant to weathering and does not absorb moisture, making it ideal when working in wet or damp environments. Regular contact with water and chemicals is likely for tradesmen, so it’s wise to minimise the risk of long-term damage by choosing fibreglass rather than aluminium ladders. The material is also non-marking, warmer to the touch and retains its smooth surface throughout its lifetime.
Choosing your ladder
When purchasing a fibreglass ladder, electrical engineers should ensure they are choosing a reputable manufacturer in order to guarantee the quality of the product. For example, the leading models on the market will feature rails made using a proprietary pultrusion process, which creates a seven-layer construction, resulting in a strong and uniform product. Additionally, any fibreglass ladder should be approved to the latest EN131 standard to certify its use for professional work. Electricians should avoid purchasing cheaper imported ladders as these may not meet the latest EN131 standard or be designed with the same level or quality of safety features.
WernerCo manufactures a comprehensive range of fibreglass ladders. Under the reputable Werner and Youngman brand categories is a choice of trade and industrial-standard platform and swingback stepladders, and a comprehensive selection of utility extension ladders.
The ‘rung-to-rail’ connection, featured on both the Werner and Youngman extension ladder ranges, minimises the risk of twisting upon ascent, while a special edge moulded brace and footpad combination on its stepladders range enhances bracing strength and protects the base tread from damage if the ladder is dropped. For added convenience, there are fibreglass extension ladders available with D-shaped rungs.
Additionally, ladders from Werner and Youngman are designed with a multi-functional Holster Top™ to keep tools organised securely on the ladder to minimise trips up and down the ladder, helping to reduce the risks of accidents, whilst Werner fibreglass ladders are also compatible with lock-in accessories.
As manufacturers continue to develop their fibreglass offering and create informative materials for tradesmen, it is important that electricians make use of the tools and equipment available to them. By doing so, these non-conductive alternatives will help to create a safer working environment and reduce the number of accidents reported each year.
T: 0121 454 9707
T: 0121 454 9707