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July 29, 2021

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Ladder safety

Safe use of ladders and stepladders

The Ladder Association and the HSE have jointly produced new guidance, which replaces the HSE Guidance Document INDG455 of the same name.

ladderThe guidance has been produced for employers on the simple, sensible precautions they should take to keep people safe when using portable leaning ladders and stepladders in the workplace.

It will also be useful for employees and their representatives. Following this guidance helps you to comply with health and safety law, but you are free to take other action.

The law calls for a sensible, proportionate approach to managing risk. References to ladders in this leaflet, unless otherwise indicated, are to types of portable leaning ladders and stepladders, and the guidance applies to both. More specific requirements that apply only to a certain type of ladder are covered in detail under the relevant headings.

The law says that ladders can be used for work at height when an assessment of the risk for carrying out a task has shown that using equipment offering a higher level of fall protection is not justified because of the low risk and short duration of use, or there are existing workplace features which cannot be altered.

To use a ladder, you must be competent or, if you are being trained, you should be working under the supervision of a competent person.

Competence can be demonstrated through a combination of training, practical and theoretical knowledge, and experience. Training should be appropriate for the task, and this includes knowing:

  • How to assess the risks of using a ladder for a particular task.
  • When it is right to use a ladder (and when it is not).
  • Which type of ladder to use and how to use it.

The guidance gives advice about:

  • Checking a ladder before using it.
  • Using a ladder safely.
  • The place of work where the ladder will be used.
  • How to secure a ladder.
  • Ladders used for access.
  • Condition of the equipment.

The safe use of ladders and stepladders guidance can be found here.

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