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Falls from ladders decline

Published 19th October, 2011 by Neil Nixon

Falls from ladders decline

For the second year running, figures released by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) reveal that the number of injuries involving the use of ladders and stepladders has fallen from 2132 in 2007/08 to 2011 in 2008/09 and 1817 in 2009/10. This despite an average overall increase of 51% in the total number of falls from height reported to HSE over the same period. 
The figure of 1817 compares with 2631 ladder-related injuries reported to HSE in 2001/02 represents a drop of 31%. 

According to the Ladder Association, no one single initiative is responsible, but rather a combination of initiatives driven by the association itself and in collaboration with other agencies, in particular HSE and the Access Industry Forum (AIF), of which it is a founder member.

“Whatever the sceptics may say, it cannot be denied that these welcome statistics coincide with a significant increase in the number of users successfully completing a Ladder Association training course,” said Chris Ball, chairman of the association. “Since the training scheme was first launched in November 2005, the year-on-year increase, after an initial exponential growth in the first few years, has been consistent at around 25% for the last couple of years. We have constantly promoted the message that if it’s right to use a ladder, use the right ladder and get trained to use it safely, and that message finally seems to be getting through, especially when it’s supported by campaigns like ‘Don’t be a ladder lightweight’ aimed at experienced ladder users with a jaundiced view of training.”

Ball continued: “We are also the first to acknowledge that HSE’s Ladder Exchange has had a major impact in raising awareness and understanding of the need to inspect and maintain ladders and stepladders to keep them safe for use. Actively supported by the association since its launch in 2007, the campaign has helped remove thousands of ‘dodgy’ and damaged ladders from the workplace. The Ladder Exchange has proved to be an excellent example of what can be achieved when the trade body, the regulator and the industry at large work towards a common goal. Neither can the work of the Access Industry Forum (AIF) be overlooked. Since 2004 it has provided an effective platform for the Ladder Association to address a wide and varied audience at events like the Safety & Health Expo and the IOSH Conference and Exhibition. These have all contributed to driving home the association’s message about safety and best practice.”

Ball concluded: “In tandem with other organisations, the association is making a difference. Promoting the need for training to hardened ladder users was never going to be easy. It’s an educational process and that takes time. However, we’re making measurable progress and the statistics seem to underline that.”