WITH springtime upon us, light nights are back and with the first of the year’s Bank Holidays fast approaching, DIY enthusiasts up and down the country are preparing to embark on all types of odd jobs and home improvement work.
However figures from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) show that approximately 41,000 DIY enthusiasts end up in hospital every year due to falls from ladders and stepladders.
In recent years Slingsby, which supplies more than 35,000 work-related products to both commercial and domestic customers, has seen annual increases in sales of DIY related products to private households and this year is no different.
Lee Wright, Marketing Director of Slingsby, which works closely with the Health & safety Executive to improve ladder safety, explains: “Old and damaged ladders are still one of the biggest causes of fatal accidents in the workplace and we have seen some truly horrific ladders being used with a wide range of faults including bent sides, missing rungs and loose nuts that made them completely unstable.
“When commercial organisations are using such equipment, you can only imagine the condition of some of the ladders that are sat in the back of people’s garages and sheds and there’s no doubt that a lot of domestic accidents are caused by ladders that are not up to scratch. Anyone taking a chance with a faulty ladder is risking their life and we would urge people to put safety first and get rid of unsafe ladders.”
Even a brand new ladder can still be dangerous if it’s used incorrectly so Slingsby has put together a guide to using a ladder safely which will help to keep your DIY jobs accident free:-
- Old and damaged ladders are a major cause of accidents but people continue to risk their lives by using faulty ladders. NEVER use a damaged ladder and get rid of any that are lurking at the back of your garage.
- Try to position the ladder where it will not be struck by vehicles or other hazards such as opening doors or pedestrians. If this isn’t possible, use cones or barriers to offer some protection or enlist someone to stand at the base of the ladder.
- Use the angle indicators that are marked on the stiles of some ladders or the 1 in 4 rule (1 unit out for every 4 units up) to put the ladder up to the correct angle of 75 degrees.
- Only use ladders on clean and level surfaces.
- If the ground is soft use a board or similar device to spread the load.
- Wherever possible secure the ladder by tying both stiles to a suitable point. If this isn’t practical use an effective ladder stability device or securely wedge the ladder against a wall or solid object. If none of these options are available then foot the ladder.
- Don’t rest ladders against weak upper surfaces such as glazing or plastic gutters. If this is the only option use spreader bars or stand-offs.
- If possible use tool belts or other similar methods to avoid carrying items when climbing ladders and if you have to carry items up ladders you should keep one had free to grip the ladder.
- Ladders should not be used for strenuous or heavy work so if buckets or materials, weighing more than about 10kg, need carrying up you should find another method.
- Only use a ladder if you can keep three points of contact (hands and feet) at the working position. If you cannot maintain a handhold, other than for a brief period of time, you should take other precautions to prevent a fall.
- Never exceed the maximum load stated on the ladder.
- Don’t overreach – keep your belt buckle inside the stiles and both feet on the same rung throughout the task.