Ensuring safety when purchasing equipment for working at height
Feb 22, 2023
With a plethora of options available on today’s market, choosing the correct ladders, platforms, and other types of equipment for working at height can be overwhelming and, at times, confusing. Given this, it may seem tempting to go for the first thing that catches the eye. However, taking the time to choose the right equipment for the job could just save a life.
Here, Kris Hallee, Head of Product Development at Werner, discusses the factors that should be considered when choosing the most appropriate products for the task at hand.
According to a report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), almost a quarter (24%) of fatal injuries in the workplace during 2021 and 2022 were caused by falling from height. So, while using ladders is a daily occurrence in the trade, using the wrong set for what is required increases the risk of injury. So, what should be considered when purchasing new equipment and what kind of products should be used for painting and decorating jobs?
Using products that allow tradespeople to work in line with Work at Height Regulations 2005 is essential. Such requirements are in place to prevent severe injury and fatalities when using ladders and platforms. The regulations stipulate that where work at height cannot be avoided, falls can be prevented by using the right type of equipment for the job at hand.
For example, it is vital that the access equipment used to complete a job is of the correct height. Without this, a worker may find themselves having to overreach to work on certain areas, which is a major safety risk. Similarly, the load a ladder can carry must not be exceeded in order to protect against breakages which can also cause serious harm to the user.
Of course, this is just a snippet of the guidance the regulations set out, so getting familiar with the requirements is encouraged. While there may seem a lot to consider there are many resources and training materials available to refer to and doing so will prevent accidents that have the potential to be fatal.
Adhere to Industry Standards
In addition, keeping up with changes to industry standards can be of immense benefit to those in the trade. Regular training to keep teams up to date with industry standards and regulations will ensure that everyone in the workplace has the knowledge they need to look out for the correct labelling on tools, be aware of the latest changes to standards, and their responsibilities in relation to these.
Part of working to regulations includes keeping up with and adhering to EN 131 standards for the professional use of ladders. Those who are using them for trade and industrial purposes must purchase ladders that meet this standard.
Rigorous testing to check stability, durability and strength in position is required to gain the EN 131 standard, and if these tests are passed, the product will be labelled accordingly. Getting familiar with the correct labelling will avoid any mistakes at the time of purchase.
Invest in Quality Ladders
It is incredibly important to do detailed research before purchasing equipment that has the potential to risk the safety of anyone in the workplace, wherever that may be. In adopting this practice, decorators will find that investing in high-quality ladders from the off will not only prevent accidents but will save money overall; eliminating the need to regularly replace faulty or poor equipment.
Ladders that are manufactured by trusted companies will meet key standards and the quality will be fit for the job. With this in mind, purchasing second-hand equipment isn’t recommended, given that it is impossible to know of any past breakages or damage that have the potential to cause future problems.
However, it is worth noting that even if the ladder being used is new, or at least shows no obvious signs of damage, it should undergo an inspection each time it is needed, to make certain it is safe, and any issues can be identified and fixed.
Use Accessories to Avoid Unnecessary Injury
To further prevent any unnecessary accidents there are many accessories that decorators can use to avoid having to climb up and down ladders to replenish materials and reduce any hazardous clutter.
Minimal space may tempt users to try and complete a job with their hands full, in order to avoid trips back and forth. However, this can result in a lack of balance and distraction, which can lead to unfortunate incidents.
Not only can the use of accessories help to keep workers safe, but they can also help decorators to get the job done faster, reducing breaks for topping up paint and switching brushes. Try accessories such as utility buckets to hold paint and job caddies to store paintbrushes, pens, and tape. It is well worth the investment to save time and ensure better safety.
Stepping Up to Safety
According to the HSE’s latest statistics, falls from height were the main cause of accidents and fatal injury in the workplace during 2021 and 2022. However, Werner believes that these incidents can be significantly reduced, with the help of industry manufacturers and associations.
Therefore, in a bid to increase the safety of professionals who work at height, Werner launched its Stepping Up to Safety campaign last year. The campaign supports employers and employees in feeling confident and safe when working at height.
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