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Snakes and Ladders - Working at height health and safety

I was recently a safety advisor at an event build when I had a chat with someone standing on a box to work at height. The guy was most embarrassed that he had forgotten to bring suitable steps. He added though that he had tried to borrow a set from another contractor but had been refused, "on the grounds of health and safety". Not that one again!!!

So let's just put this right. Was the worker trained and competent? Yes. He clearly knew his stuff and it was a regular feature of his work. So he was able to work safely. At least in theory. Was he likely to catch some kind of disease or illness? Mmmm. I don't think so? So that rules out health issues. What it then comes down to then is ignorance and an irrational fear of litigation if something were to go wrong. And if those above diligences were followed, all would be well (up to this point).

So all that remains is the question of, are the steps maintained, inspected and in a good condition? This is where the 'snake' element comes in. No, they were not. They had a seriously deformed bottom tread, which affected the stability of the ladder (it had also thrown the sides (stiles) out of alignment). The only thing they were good for was scrapping. No wonder they did not want anyone to borrow them, it would have revealed their unsafe equipment.


The photograph is that of an extending ladder I once came across which was so badly damaged that it was only held together by ratchet straps.  They presented additional new hazards whereby the ladder would probably be unstable, the user could loose their hold, footing, or catch their hands or feet in the tangle of straps. 

For health and safety consultancy, or training in working at height health and safety, please contact us.