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I personally think this is good news but not excellent. I still find it hard to believe how few people are being trained on Ladders and Stepladders. I have put the story of the growth in take up below these comments and it is well worth a read.
If we consider the legalities of Ladder Training, ladders are work equipment and therefore adequate training was required by the PUWER back in 1998. No take up generally and falls from height continued to account for a grossly unacceptable number of deaths and major injuries. By using the statistics compiled from RIDDOR it also became clear that 60% of the major injuries were from ‘Low falls’ (falls from below head height). This indicated a need for a change to current legislation (Construction Health and Safety regulations 1996) to take this into account.
Martin Holden, HM principal specialist inspector for the HSE Construction Corporate topic group than created a committee of experts to discuss what had to be done. This committee became known as ACWAHT (Advisory committee on Work at Height Training). The reason that it ended up being all about training is due to the very simple fact that people are required to create an unsafe situation. Equipment is inanimate and therefore benign but with human intervention it can become dangerous. The team then decided that all persons involved with Work at Height must be Competent and in order to measure competency they had to redefine it. This is what they came up with and this is how the HSE are measuring Competency for work at height in a court of law.
Click on the picture and scroll down to be able to click on “what do the regulations say about competence”
With this definition so crystal clear why then such a slow and low take up? There are a number of factors to take into account but perception of hazard is key.
Certain equipment is safer by it’s nature than other equipment. MEWP’s and Mobile Towers utilise collective Fall Prevention and are first choice for a lot of work at height. At OTJ Training we provide training to the highest standard via IPAF and PASMA. There is general acceptance that training on this sort of equipment is necessary and beneficial though the equipment is statistically safer than a ladder. We train people on the use of Harnesses and how to always attempt to create a restraint situation if possible to prevent a fall. Clearly training is vital and a lot of people realise this. All of this to prevent a fall and in fact we MUST to do all that it reasonably practicable to prevent a fall.
Falling however is not the problem. Felix Baumgartne fell from the edge of space, 38894 m from the ground and he is fine.
The reason that he is fine is simple. He decelerated prior to impact. With the use of ladders and Stepladders there is only acceleration and impact. We know from one of my previous blog posts that the impact force of an 80Kg load falling 2m is around 15600 n so with that in mind it is absolutely vital that people do not fall off. Sadly the only thing that prevents people falling off is the way that the equipment is used and the quality and suitability of the equipment.
Unlike MEWPs etc there are no control measures to prevent falls or mitigate the consequences of landing at speed so the only sensible option is training and supervision. The Ladder Association Training programme is quite simply the best that there is and last year we trained over 5000 people. Sites that had banned Stepladders have realised that its people that need to be controlled and are now asking for a Ladder Card to prove competency instead of an outright ban. As long as those supervising are also trained and competent we can all work effectively, efficiently and above all safely. I am proud to be one of the Ladder Association’s Lead instructors and to sit on the Training Committee helping with the development of the training course to make sure we meet the needs and challenges of industry. OTJ Training offer the full range of Ladder Association training courses so please take a look at http://www.otjtraining.com and join the thousands of Competent Ladder Users.
The number of people trained by the Ladder Association in the safe use of ladders reached an all-time high in 2012, passing 5,000 for the first time.
The 5,052 people trained in 2012 marks a 47% increase on 2011’s figure of less than 3,500. In training almost 1,000 people during November, the association also reached its highest ever number trained in one month.
Technical director Don Aers said: “It is great to see that more people and organisations than ever are taking the safety message on-board and understanding that there is a vital need for people who use ladders for their work to be trained and competent.
“There are a number of reasons for such an impressive increase, but first and foremost it is evidence of the increasing recognition within industries that ladder training is essential. One of our main goals at the Ladder Association is to make sure that industries where ladders are commonly used understand the dangers of work at height and the need for people using ladders to be competent.”
During the year the Ladder Association took over the Ladder Exchange programme that had previously been run by the Health & Safety Executive. Ladder safety publicity associated with this boosted training numbers.
Mr Aers added: “Our campaigns throughout 2012 played a large part in getting the safety message out, and we have plans to do even more in the coming year. By the end of 2013 we are aiming for another equally sharp jump in the number of people who have the training and understanding they need to be safe at work.”
Is this person competent?
If we look at what is happening we can uncover motivations and move on to preventing this sort of thing happening again.
The person is either doing DIY or they are there purely to repair the chimney. If DIY then no Health and Safety at Work Act to worry about you might think. Well I don’t ‘worry’ about the Act, it’s there to protect me from people willing to risk my life for financial gain. For DIY I should adopt the same principles as I have a duty to my Wife and my children. They need me to be alive, earning money and setting the right example. DIY is a dangerous sport and hospitals actually prepare for the influx of hapless, well meaning DIYers on bank holidays. We should focus more on the people that rely on us than rushing the little task that could get us paralysed. Gravity works in the same way whether we are at work or at home.
If the guy is getting paid for the job then he is taking work from companies that would do the work safely. He will have prices so low that the client thinks that the right way is way too expensive. He will have used terms like ‘safety has all gone too far’ ‘ it isn’t worth it for such a small job’ and ‘ ill be done in a quarter of the time’. The reputable companies don’t stand a chance. This person will then break the law, put themselves at significant risk and the house holders at risk of finding a broken person laying on the ground when they return. If he doesn’t fall they both go away happy in the knowledge that they have got one over on the system, saved some money/ made more profit and nobody is any the wiser.
I’ve no idea how to stop this particularly in a recession but don’t employ people like that. If they will cut corners with their life, if they care so little for their families, they will do a half assed job.