Employers urged to replace ladders with safer alternatives

Employers have been warned that they should only use ladders for “simple access or short periods”, after a worker was killed in a fall.

SafeWork NSW executive director Peter Dunphy said the 58-year-old electrical contractor sustained fatal head injuries when he fell three metres from a ladder at a Smithfield business in June, while three other NSW workers had been seriously injured in ladder incidents over the last two months.

“Between July 2011 and 31 May 2016, 3168 workers were injured in falls from ladders, including two fatalities at a total cost of $54.5 million to the NSW workers’ compensation system,” he said.

“Ladders should only be used for simple access or short periods and businesses must have safety measures in place. SafeWork NSW recommends businesses only use ladders on flat, stable surfaces and workers should only take small items up or down them.”

Dunphy said that a worker should always maintain three points of contact with the ladder (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand), and never reach or lean away from it.

A-frame ladders should always be set up in the fully open position, extension ladders should be secured at the top, bottom or both ends to avoid slipping, and duty holders should consider whether safer alternatives like scaffolding, elevated work platforms or cherry pickers are more appropriate, he said.

SafeWork has produced a three-minute video safety alert on the safe use of ladders.

Originally published by OHS Alert, 27 July 2016.

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