Workplace equipment supplier Slingsby is supporting this year’s ‘Ladder Exchange Initiative’, which offers substantial discounts on new ladders that are part exchanged for damaged ones.  This comes after recent figures revealed the number of fatal injuries in British workplaces is no longer in decline and that falls from height remain the main cause of these accidents.
Figures from The Health & Safety Executive show 173 workers were killed in 2011/12 which is just two less than the 175 recorded in 2010/11.  This is a large increase from the lowest ever figure of 147 deaths in 2009/10.  More than half of all fatal accidents are caused by falls from height.
The Ladder Exchange Initiative, which is organised by The Ladder Association, runs until 30th November 2012 and offers customers big savings on Slingsby’s extensive range of ladders and access solutions when they hand over ladders that are unsafe, broken or damaged.  The scheme is now in its sixth year and since its launch it has been responsible for removing over 10,000 broken, bent or damaged ladders from UK workplaces.
Lee Wright, marketing director of Slingsby, which supplies more than 35,000 workplace products, explains: “Although the number of workplace fatalities in the UK has halved in the last 20 years it is worrying that the reductions have ground to a halt in the last couple of years.  Hopefully the Ladder Exchange Initiative can help to tackle this problem because there are still far too many accidents and thousands of injuries every year caused by falls from height and this is a risk that workers across all industries can face.  Even workers that are simply using step ladders to access high shelves or change light bulbs can end up having accidents.”
Lee adds: “Although ladders are a familiar piece of equipment they can be extremely dangerous if they’re not used properly.  Plus nowadays there are new products coming out all the time to help prevent these injuries.
“Recently we have seen some major developments in equipment such as new anti-slip anchor points, advanced locking systems on ladders, swivel feet that adjust to suit the type of surface you’re using the ladder on and there’s a huge range of access platforms available for all types of tricky areas so there really are no excuses for safety lapses when it comes to ladders.”
However even brand new ladders and other equipment 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 workplaces 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 in your workplace.
Ladders are classified as BS2037/BS1129 Class 3 for domestic use and these should NEVER be used in any workplace. EN131 is for trade and light industrial use and BS2037/BS1129 Class 1 is for heavy duty and industrial use.
Make sure the ladder is safe and in good condition, with two serviceable non-slip fleet and rungs that are all clean and secure.
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.
Only use ladders on clean and level surfaces.
If the ground is soft use a board or similar device to spread the load.
Some ladders come with angle indicators marked on their stiles which you should always use.  If you don’t have an angle indicator use the 1 in 4 rule (1 unit out for every 4 units up) to position the ladder at 75 degrees.
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.  When 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 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 maintain three points of contact (hands and feet) at the working position.  If you cannot keep a handhold, other than for a brief period of time, you should take other precautions to prevent a fall.
Don’t overreach – keep your belt buckle inside the stiles and both feet on the same rung throughout the task.
Never exceed the maximum load stated on the ladder.