Ladder safety is regularly in the news here in the UK and the Safety Fabrications team keeps fully up to date with what’s going on in the world of ladders so that we can provide our readers with a regular news roundup blog for safety ladders. Once a month, one of our blog posts deals with news stories from the past month that feature ladders of any kind. It would be interesting to know what you, the readers, think of the stories that feature here. Please join in by adding your comments on our Facebook page, tweet to us on Twitter or drop us an email if there’s anything you’d like us to cover.
Our first news item concerns a Selby company which has been fined a total of £6,821 after pleading guilty to four contraventions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Police had raised concerns about people living in rooms above a takeaway shop in Selby and, when a fire safety inspector visited the premises, it was discovered that there was no working fire alarm and fire detection system. The only access to the rooms in question was via a loft ladder which, at the time of inspection was lifted up, despite the fact that somebody was on the upper floor. There was no fire-protected escape route from the rooms, the business owner had not carried out a fire risk assessment and, in the event of a ground-floor fire, the people upstairs would have no early warning and no fire-protected route to make an escape.
Next comes the revelation that the manufacturing industry is prone to a higher risk of accidents than other sectors. The most common accidents involve falling objects and falls from height, often from ladders or scaffolding. These falls are often caused by a ladder not secured correctly and it’s been reiterated that the responsibility of the employer to keep employees safe by ensuring safe access routes and the correct use of access equipment.
Scottish council, West Lothian Council has been fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to health and safety failings which resulted in a worker suffering serious injuries and distress. Joseph Poterala, an employee of West Lothian Council was painting the outside of a council residential property when the ladder he was using slid from the wall, causing him to fall more than four metres. Poterala sustained eight knee fractures and a serious injury to his left hip in an accident which was described by the Crown Office’s Health and Safety Division as preventable had sufficient measures been put in place. It was discovered during the investigation that the council had not provided a tower or podium steps (which would have been a safer option than a ladder), nor had it provided a ladder base to stop the ladder from slipping backwards nor a limpet device to prevent lateral movement.
Finally, in eastern Nepal, members of the Kulung people regularly risk their lives by scaling bamboo rope ladders up 300-foot cliffs to harvest the hallucinogenic honey produced by Himalayan giant honey bees! The bees are deterred from attacking the honey-gatherers with smoke from burning grass attached to a pole and, if you’d like to see this for yourself, the documentary, “The Last Honey Hunter” will be released next year.