By Soni Sheimar, General Manager, Easi-Dec Limited
Previously I’ve written about ladder safety, in particular how to inspect a ladder and use it safely. While relevant to the glazing industry, it’s important to understand that there are additional safety issues you should consider when fitting new windows while using ladders.
General Use of Ladders
It goes without saying that ladders should only be used when a more suitable alternative is not justified. This would normally be because the work is low risk and short duration or because other options are not possible due to the location or layout of the site.
First Floor Ladder Use
When using a ladder for lower level work, such as removing or installing windows at first floor level, you should always use a ladder stability device and if possible tie the ladder to a suitable anchorage to prevent the ladder slipping sideways.
Always have one hand on the ladder, even when carrying items up and down the ladder. Your free hand should ideally be either around the outside of the frame or through the de-glazed section within the frame so that you have a hand free to grip the ladder.
Heavy materials should not be carried up a ladder unless you can justify the need through a thorough manual handling risk assessment. The risk assessment is critical as it will also help to identify the maximum load that can be carried up the ladder. Where possible heavy materials should be taken transported through the building and a safe system of work involving 2 people implemented for large sections.
Where practical, the amount of material carried up a ladder should be kept to a minimum, with the majority of materials being transported through the building.
Before installation, devent or de-glaze to reduce the weight of the unit being carried up the ladder and make sure the load weight does not exceed the weight stated in the manual handling risk assessment. As with transporting the materials, wherever possible installation should be carried out from inside the building rather than from a ladder. If this is not possible, then large units should be lifted using two ladders or specially designed equipment such as an access platform with a lifting mechanism.
Following an installation any post installation work that needs to be carried out such as removing protective coverings or applying mastic should be done with care from the ladder. Move the ladder to make sure there’s no chance of overreaching or overbalancing and use stability devices such as a ladder stand-off.
It’s estimated that over two million ladders are used daily in the UK and over a third of all reported falls from height involve ladders. With ladders being an integral part of window installations it’s essential that you understand when and where to use a ladder safely. Contrary to some beliefs, ladders are not banned. However they should only be used for low risk, short duration work and by those competent to use them.