Mythbusting: Ladders and the new Health and Safety at Work Act

Despite what you may have heard...

Mythbusting: Ladders and the new Health and Safety at Work Act

Despite what you may have heard, you can still use ladders under the new law.

 

The new law doesn’t specify heights at which you should or shouldn’t use a ladder, but it does say you must use equipment that’s appropriate to the task. So if you work at height, you must take action to protect workers from harm that could come from a fall, as far as is reasonably practicable.

Work platforms, scaffolding and towers are all options that help prevent falls. Ladders should be the last option, and only used for lower-risk and short-duration tasks. According to WorkSafe, approximately 70 per cent of falls are from ladders and roofs. The cost of these falls is estimated to be $24 million a year – to say nothing of the human cost as a result of these falls.

If you do need to use a ladder, here are some quick tips from the team at Site Safe on how to do so safely:

 

DO:

  • As much prep work on the ground as possible
  • Use a tool belt; don’t put tools on the rungs
  • Secure the top and bottom of the ladder to prevent it slipping sideways or falling backwards
  • Keep three points of contact
  • Stop at the third step from the top of a straight ladder or ensure you have at least one metre extending past the point at which you are stepping off from
  • Use an industrial-standard ladder in good condition on stable ground
  • Ensure the stays and clips are secured on stepladders, place the steps towards your work and avoid side-on loading (like drilling side-on through bricks)
  • Ensure all working areas and access ways are clean, level, well-lit and in good condition
  • Remove unwanted material and construction waste regularly from site so it does not accumulate
  • Ensure construction materials, power leads, tools and equipment are positioned and secured to avoid creating hazards
  • Ensure you wear appropriate safety gear

 

DON’T:

  • Overload
  • Overreach
  • Work near openings or voids
  • Have more than one person on the ladder at one time

 

For more information on how to use ladders safely, check out Site Safe’s practical construction advice at www.sitesafe.org.nz.