A considerable number of tasks in the United Kingdom are done while using ladders and elevated platforms. Platforms and ladders are the usual tools for working at heights. Each year, several workers – whilst working at elevated areas – are injured and some even lose their lives or are injured seriously. Some studies show that these workers do not use the tools properly or they do not use the tools at all. Most accidents may be avoided if steps are taken to properly use these elevation tools.
The Occupational Safety and Health Branch of the Labour Department has issued guidelines on how to safely use ladders, fixed access ladders, and elevated working platforms. Violations on the safe use of these devices are often committed and the U.K. workforce and the public are encouraged to file complaints with the Labour Department occupational safety and health complaint hotline.
Ladders can either be fixed ladders or portable ladders and there are also stepladders and straight ladders. There are several safety hints to consider before using a ladder and these hints may ensure the user’s safety. These are application, selection, process, and training.
Application is having knowledge of what work is to be done using the ladder. Selection is choosing the right kind of ladder. Process is having knowledge of what are the work circumstances and the safety precautions to be taken. Training is getting lessons on how to properly use ladders. It is also important to know that, for working at heights of over two meters, ladders are to be used as egress and access but not as a platform to work from.
Fixed access ladders are used mainly as egress and access from overhead structures in construction, tower cranes, lift machine rooms, building water tanks, and shafts. For fixed access ladders of heights of three meters or more, some points should be considered. These include:
- Installation of the right safety hoops;
- Safety hoops spacing must not exceed 1 meter;
- The lowest safety hoop must be installed at a height not to exceed three meters above the ground;
- The highest safety hoop must be installed 1 meter above access’ and egress’ upper end; and
- There has to be a suitable rest platform or landing place at an interval of not more than nine meters along the fixed access ladder.
Aside from ladders, elevated working platforms (which are steadily becoming popular) are used in work that involves heights. They are used to carry workers for the ceiling maintenance and cleaning buildings’ external walls. There are several points in using elevated platforms and a few of them include: thoroughly inspecting the platform before every use, resting the platform on a solid and even ground, securing the platform’s guard rails, examining and testing the platform at regular times, ensuring that the platform is kept at a distance safe from above-head cables, and not moving the platform whilst there are workers on it, among other considerations.
Ladders and platforms are used in almost all working industries in the country from construction to office work. Employers and employees must make sure that they know the right way of using these platforms and ladders in order avoid accidents in the workplace.