Tricks of the trade: the need to knows when working at height
Sep 1, 2021
Working from a height requires a number of considerations in order to stay safe and secure. When customers expect quick and efficient service, health and safety guidelines, product safety and best practice can sometimes become a second thought. Sophie Ellam, Product Manager for WernerCo, discusses the key safety guidelines for tradespeople to be aware of, whilst highlighting the importance of choosing high quality products that tradespeople can rely on.
Falls from height remain to be the leading cause of workplace injuries. The 2021 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Workplace Fatal Injuries Report states that the industry has seen fatal falls from height increase by 29% from the previous year. Therefore, there’s never been a more crucial time for tradesmen to be aware of the simple steps that can prevent accidents on site.
Whilst understanding the various standards in place for working at height, choosing equipment can be somewhat of a minefield, so it is vital that the ladder and equipment you use meets the recommended safety requirements, deeming it suitable for working at height.
Reliable products are key
While there are alternative ways to work at height, a ladder is often a considerably more practical and cost-effective option - and in these difficult economic times, tradespeople are often searching for ways to save money. And, as long as necessary safeguards are taken, ladders can be utilised safely, reliably, and without risk of any accidents on the job.
Buying equipment from a reliable manufacturer ensures quality and legislation is met to the current industry standards, therefore, mitigating any risks of product failures and giving you peace of mind you can reach heights safely.
Although there may be less expensive solutions on the market, this is not always reflective of quality, and it does not guarantee that the product will pass the required standards or have been adequately tested.
Before undertaking any work at height it’s important that your equipment isn’t damaged in any way, as this could affect the safety and performance of the product. Before use, ensure all working parts move properly and that all connections are secure, being mindful to carefully check spreaders, treads, ropes and safety feet.
Safety first, always
You may feel you are familiar with the most up-to-date safety recommendations for working at heights and with ladders, but these frequently change in accordance with the industry's current position and legislation.
According to the HSE’s guidelines, it recommends working on a ladder for no longer than 30 minutes. If you need to work at height for longer, make sure you take regular breaks or consider alternative work at height equipment such as an Access Tower.
With time pressures out on the job, panic and rushed tasks can often become the norm, which in reality, is when accidents occur. Take your time when working on a ladder and be sure there’s someone around in case you need any assistance.
In order to be as safe as possible when working on a ladder, it’s important to make sure the ladder complies with the correct industry standard, depending on the ladder's use. All standards, including both professional and non-professional categories, reflect the differences in the ladder's performance requirements.
A ladder may not always be the most suitable equipment for the job, when working on more complex job sites or harder to reach places a more specialist ladder or access solution may be required. Sometimes using a ladder simply isn’t necessary and there is a wide range of flexible and multipurpose work platforms now available that would be better suited to the task in hand, particularly for those just out of reach areas or if you are working on uneven surfaces, around obstacles or in stairwells.
Best practice whilst working at height
When you're in a rush, in the zone, or working in the heat, it's easy to overlook the small safety precautions. It takes minutes to improve your ladder safety, but it takes far less time to fall or cause injury.
The first thing you should do is consider the best ladder for the job. This includes the type of ladder, its length, its duty rating, and the material of the ladder. When a ladder is used on the job every day, it needs to be suitable for the job. That's why WernerCo's ladders are cycle tested over 50,000 times to ensure they satisfy professional standards.
It is vital to consider the ladder's material. Fibreglass ladders, for example, are ideal for working around electricity since they are non-conductive, reducing the risk of electric shock. They're also a tough, long-lasting alternative that resists denting and twisting, ensuring that the ladder's safety isn't jeopardised.
Needless to say, knowing how to use a ladder safely is of vital importance and can quite literally save your life. WernerCo leads the way in promoting safety in the workplace and offers courses to help you stay safe when working at height.
The courses cover 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.
T: 0121 454 9707
T: 0121 454 9707