The risks associated with using ladders in the workplace shouldn’t be underestimated after figures released by SafeWork NSW show that in the five years between July 2011 and 31 May this year,
3170 workers were injured in falls from ladders, including two fatal accidents, in NSW alone.
These incidents cost the NSW workers’ compensation scheme $54.5 million. Following another death in June, where a 58-year-old electrical contractor died after falling three metres from a ladder at a Smithfield business, SafeWork NSW has issued a request to employers to look for safer alternatives to ladders.
The safety regulator has warned employers that workers should only use ladders for "simple access or short periods". “SafeWork NSW recommends businesses only use ladders on flat, stable surfaces and workers should only take small items up or down them," said SafeWork NSW Executive Director Peter Dunphy.
When working with ladders, SafeWork NSW recommends:
- Ladders should only be used for simple access or short periods and businesses must have safety measure in place;
- Workers should always maintain three points of contact with the ladder (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand);
- Never reach or lean away from the ladder;
- A-frame ladders should always be set up in the fully open position; and extension ladders should be secured at the top, bottom or both ends to avoid slipping.
Mr Dunphy asked duty-holders to consider whether safer alternatives, like scaffolding, elevated work platforms or cherry pickers were more appropriate. SafeWork has produced a three-minute video safety alert on the safe use of ladders to help businesses work safely. http://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/health-and-safety/safety-topics-a-z/ladders