Ladder Regulations – Keeping Track of Current Rules

Ladder Regulations According to UK Regulations

Movable work equipment such as steps and ladders have a high accident risk, so companies are obliged to check them regularly. Ladder regulations must be followed to ensure safety at the workplace.

Without suitable software, it can be difficult to coordinate all the necessary inspections and maintenance. Especially in medium-sized and large companies, a large number of steps, machines and devices have to be managed – an effort that should not be underestimated. With a digital maintenance planner, however, the necessary documents and dates are quickly at hand when needed.

Many companies still use traditional and less efficient methods when it comes to maintaining their ladders and steps. They note down inspection dates on paper and keep analogue files or create Excel lists to which only certain employees have access. With these approaches, the success of inspection management depends heavily on individual persons and the current order in the company administration.

If the person in charge is ill or the paper lists have been physically damaged, in many cases no one has an overview of which ladders are in which condition. Yet there are very precise regulations for the procedure of ladder inspections. Bureaucrats expect company managers to know when which step has to be inspected and what was done during its last maintenance.

Among other things, attention must be paid to the wear, deformation and destruction of components. Missing components on a ladder must be documented and replaced. Of course, the proper functioning of the connecting elements must also be checked, for example, the joints of one-piece multi-purpose ladders.

What Is Included on a Correct Ladder Inspection Checklist?

In order to inspect ladders and steps, one must have undergone appropriate training. According to the law, every company should appoint a person who is responsible for the inspections and documentation and who instructs the employees in the proper use of the company ladders and steps. The skills of the appointed person must be demonstrated at the request of official bodies. This person may be a company employee or an external person.

During the ladder inspection, a visual and functional inspection must be carried out, as states in ‘LA455 Safe Use of Ladders and Stepladders – a brief guide’. This provides companies with legal certainty and binding proof that legal obligations have been met. Consequently, inspection documentation must be retrievable at all times. In addition to this, a legible ladder instruction manual should also be attached to the equipment. This is to guarantee the legibility of the safety instructions.

A control sheet for the inspection of ladders and steps typically contains the inventory number of the ladder or step as well as its associated department or the intended location. Basic data such as the type of ascent, the material and the number of rungs or steps complete the information sheet. Data on the ladder length or whether the unit has been shortened as well as information on the manufacturer and the dealer are also helpful. To keep track of the age of the ladder, the article and type number as well as the date of purchase should be noted. And of course, a check sheet also shows the name of the expert or authorised representative and an inspection sticker with a follow-up date.

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Ladder Regulations: Important for Fire Brigades, Industry and Other Areas

The special thing about the fire service is that ladders are rescue and attack routes there. If structural traffic routes are not available at the required location or are no longer usable, a ladder of suitable length must be used. In the handling instructions, firefighters are advised not to place ladders too steeply, on uneven surfaces or against glass panes, for example.

Fire brigade ladders must also be tested. For use, they must be in proper condition according to UK ladder regulations. If a ladder inspection reveals a defect or deficiency, it must be repaired immediately. However, many repairs cannot be completed within a short time. Consequently, the damaged object in question must be marked so that no one uses it until it is repaired.

In order to be allowed to put a ladder or step back into use after a defect has been identified, a new ladder inspection must take place after the repair.
To keep track of all the regular and special ladder inspections as well as the repairs that need to be done, a fully automated solution is a good idea: A maintenance planner software such as Timly proactively reminds of pending ladder inspections.

It can be used as a general directory for ladders and steps. In addition to managing ladder inspections or ladder inspections, maintenance and inventory software takes care of recording employee skills. Good maintenance software links information about equipment with data about who is authorised to inspect ladders. This may be in-house personnel. Alternatively, an interface to a suitable external service provider can be set up.

Ladder and Step-Ladder Testing in the UK

Every year, about 6000 occupational accidents occur in Switzerland when using ladders. About one hundred people become disabled every year. This means that about ten per cent of all disability pensions are paid due to ladder accidents. In addition, an average of four deaths occur each year due to unsafe steps or incorrect use of ladders. Safety rules regarding portable ladders are therefore an essential part of occupational safety.

Consequently, ladders and steps must not be overlooked under any circumstances when testing work equipment. Inspection companies typically recommend an annual inspection and logging. Mobile ladders that are rarely used sometimes only need to be inspected every two years. This also applies to steps and bridging steps. When ladders and steps should be inspected can be easily recorded, planned and tracked using inventory and maintenance planner software.

Qualified persons for the inspection of ladders and steps in Switzerland should have three prerequisites. Firstly, they must have relevant professional training; secondly, they must have some professional experience; and thirdly, they must be engaged in a timely professional activity. Such authorised persons can work in their own company, but they can also come from an external company that specialises in ladder inspections.

The usual procedure for a ladder inspection is to first list all steps and ladders in the company. This is followed by a condition inspection to determine the safe condition of the ladders in question. This is done by visual inspection or test climbs. Special attention is paid to those places where repairs have been carried out before. Typical wear parts are also critically examined by trained inspection personnel.

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How Much Can a Ladder Inspection Cost?

Ladder regulations also state that inspections of portable ladders and stepladders must take place in all companies without exception, regardless of what the respective steps are used for. After all, even single missing components or tiny defects may cause serious accidents. The costs of the inspection depend on the number of objects to be inspected and the effort involved.

Of course, it also plays a role whether an internal person takes over the inspection or a company is hired for a professional ladder inspection. In most cases, a comprehensive inspection of ladders and steps is scheduled once a year. 

Ladder regulations must be kept on track

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Shorter intervals may be necessary for individual inspections; in rare cases, longer intervals are sufficient. The intervals of the inspections are based on the operating conditions, i.e. the frequency of use and the stress. Another factor is the frequency and severity of defects found. If problems with the ladders were already apparent during earlier inspections, this is a reason for more frequent inspections, especially if the defects were serious.

In any case, inspection dates for ladders should be carefully planned and scheduled. This avoids the maintenance cycle clashing with other operations. Good planning also prevents scheduling difficulties at short notice because responsible employees are out of the office.

Companies must also ensure that all faults and defects are documented during a ladder inspection, for example in an inspection record. It makes sense if this inspection documentation can be accessed online instead of lying on paper in a drawer.

With specialised maintenance planner software, digitalised inspection records can be retrieved via QR code labels on the ladders. This way, questions about ladders and steps can be answered directly in the warehouse or on the construction site. As information is available more quickly and easily, companies save labour and material costs in the long term with inventory software.

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