Owner Builders, Fall from Heights and Ladder Safety
I thought it was a timely reminder to post about ladder safety and Owner Builder responsibilities.
Again recently we have seen yet another serious accident on an owner builder site relating to the misuse of ladders.
Whilst we cover this in depth in our safety topic, I still see inadequate answers that require me to requiz the owner builder in respect to the correct way to set up and use a ladder.
I occasionally have the owner builder student tell me it is not a concern as they are not going to be using a ladder. Those jobs will be undertaken by qualified tradies.
Well, I need to remind everyone, that as an owner builder, you are the Principal Contractor and responsible for the actions of all those engaged on site.
Please take a minute to review the basics of ladder safety.
Look at the angle at which it is set up.
Consider the security of the ladder at top and bottom.
Do you need someone to 'foot' the ladder?
Does it extend high enough past any area you are trying to access?
Are those using the ladder up above the safe limit (rung height)?
All owner builders need to consider these points, observe what your trades are doing and ensure the performance of any activity is in accordance with the relevant Work Method Statement.
To all our owner builder course students, stay safe and,
Happy Owner Building
This is very important issue if you are building a Two story house with internal Voids.
I recently retired my 8 ft ladder which I often used over 16 years with my work thinking it would be an easy job to replace. I often work with other tradesmen and am pretty picky as to what ladder I will use as I know my ladders and feel safe using them. After all your entrusting your bones and limbs that what your climbing up and down is secure and safe enough to hold you. I have often returned to a site to find the owner or another tradie using my ladders and although my insurer may not like it, I feel secure in knowing that they are safe. I guess what I'm saying is make sure when you purchase a ladder for your job it's one you feel safe for you and the specific job. You never know who else may decide to use it.
I recently heard of a fatality of a person who fell off a 3 rung ladder used at ground level. They hit their head on a concrete floor and had a bleed in the brain and died. I'm unsure of any more details but it highlights the dangers of working at any height.
Ladder safety does need to be taken seriously, too often ladder usage and safety taken for granted resulting in many weekend builders/handyman/woman ending up in the emergency department. Being from an industry that relies on ladder use regularly many simple steps should be taken when using a ladder. Level surface, tether ladder off where possible , have a second party foot the ladder where possible, extend the ladder 3 rungs above gutter , do not work from highest rung on ladder. Following these steps will go a long way to your individual safety and ladder safety.
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Rick Heaton is a Building and Construction Industry professional with formal tertiary qualifications in management and training.