Lending ladders: is it safe?

When it comes to lending ladders many contractors, employers and workers are understandably cautious. Many don’t actually know whether you can, in fact, lend ladders – and similar tools – out to others.

The answer is yes, you can indeed lend ladders to others, but before you do you should take a moment to consider the risks you are taking by doing so.

Let’s look at an example: a fellow contractor has arrived on site without a ladder. Without the ladder, they have to stop the job and delay the work whilst they buy or hire one. This is a lot of effort and trouble for them.

However, they have a bright idea and ask whether they could just borrow one of your ladders. It makes sense, right?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the contractor or their employer should have made sure the correct equipment was supplied before starting the job.

By offering them your own equipment you have taken away their employer’s opportunity to ensure that the equipment is suitable for the job, is in a safe condition, and that the workers are trained to use it. In other words, you could take these responsibilities on yourself.

The solution

In reality, a competent contractor or worker, would not ask to borrow your ladder and would supply their own.

In these situations, prevention is the best solution, and not lending your ladder to anyone absolves you of any possible ramifications. However, if you have no choice but to go ahead and allow someone to borrow your ladder, there are some guidelines you can follow to ensure there are no problems.

> Make sure you are confident that the ladder you’re going to lend is in top condition and is suitable for the task at hand. Keep a ladder checklist or other record showing that the ladder has been properly inspected and certified by a professional.

> Confirm with the responsible person at the contracted business, such as the site manager or supervisor, that it is OK for the lending of the ladder to take place.

> Ensure the contractor themselves inspect the ladder, and have them confirm in writing that they have done so. This could be achieved by having them co-sign the ladder checklist from the inspection you carried out.

Though there are always some risks when it comes to lending equipment or tools, they can be mostly mitigated by meeting your obligations and ensuring all necessary precautions have been taken.