With Christmas nearly here we are dusting off the decorations and festooning homes and workplaces with the fairy lights and tinsel. After untangling miles of wires we plan the task of fixing them along rooflines, chimneys, window displays and trees; this usually involves a ladder (or step ladder) and taking some simple actions can reduce the chance of you, or an employee, spending Christmas in a plaster cast (even more likely if you use chairs, boxes or other objects not designed for the job). It is a myth that health and safety bans the use of ladders in the workplace!
10 top tips for basic ladder safety:
- Check the feet, legs and rungs are not damaged or bent before you begin and any rubber grips are in place
- Ensure the locking mechanism locks out fully on step ladders
- Place all ladder feet flat on the floor so the ladder is upright and stable and doesn’t wobble
- Make sure the step ladder high enough so you do not have to stand on the top platform and the hand rail will be no lower than your waist height from where you are working
- Ladders should be at a minimum angle of 70 degrees from the wall (an easy way to check is stand upright at the foot of the ladder and if it is at arms length away from you at shoulder height then it is approx. 70 degrees)
- Use a ladder long enough for the job – you should never be working from the top few rungs
- Have a second person to hold or “foot” the ladder whilst you are on it
- Do not over-reach upwards or sideways from the ladder
- Maintain 3 points of contact with the ladder whenever possible
- Where fall arrest systems are fitted to a commercial premises, or you are using a cherry picker, then a harness should be worn
Every year there are many fires caused by Christmas lights and we should always check our lights at home to ensure they are serviceable; if they are buzzing, humming or flickering then they may not be working correctly and should be replaced. If you are a business and putting lights up in the workplace then they must comply with the Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) and should be regularly PAT tested as you would your other electrical equipment at work.
Here’s wishing everyone a safely illuminated Christmas from C2 Safety.