Everyone, at some point, will use a product to access a task at height. Whether it is in a domestic setting (a kitchen step or a loft ladder) or a commercial one, choosing the right product and using it safely is a task that people may undertake without considering any consequence. Andy Ferris, Commercial Director at LFI, talks about the steps we can take to make these tasks safer.
The standards governing the manufacture of ladders and steps is – in the main – covered by EN131.
This in turn has several parts which address dimensions, material specification, testing and labelling. The access industry saw the biggest change in recent memory a couple of years ago as the old British Standard Class 1 and 3 were withdrawn and the European market came to realise the new, improved, more durable, safer product.
The biggest physical change to ladders is easy to spot; manufacturers need to provide a more stable product and as such a ratio between extended height and the base width was introduced as part of the standard and so the majority have now added a stabiliser bar to be fitted at the base.
The Ladder Association is the representative industry body – they represent the collective power of manufacturers, users and training providers across the UK. It is their training courses which users can undertake to obtain the LadderCard which is awarded upon successful completion and will provide the holder with a pass (for 5 years) to acknowledge their competence and ability to work more safely.
It is widely acknowledged that falls from height remain one of the biggest causes of fatal injuries in the workplace (HSE Statistics) however this can be mitigated with the correct training and product selection.
When choosing the correct product there are a few key things to consider – the task itself (can I get to the place I need to be); the environment (is it safe, do I have flat, stable ground); and the user’s competence. All ladders and steps are provided with a set of instructions and clear labels to indicate safe use, again forming part of the EN131 standard. However, it is still always down to the user to make the final decision.
With many options being available, covering a variety of heights, prices and quality, choosing the correct ladder may seem daunting. However, items that will get the user to the right height and are made to the correct (current) standard are what to look out for. Buying a reputable, UK-made piece of access equipment will certainly add to the feeling of safety.
LFI have been manufacturing ladders in the UK since 1947 and continue to develop their range to meet and exceed the standards which govern these products. As a reputable manufacturer, LFI also provide training for ladder users along with other relevant courses.
The Ladder Association also provides a wealth of useful material relating to the safe use of access products, including downloads and online guides such as the ‘Correct Way To Use Ladders’
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