Latest News

Ladders and Working at Height Regulations – What You Need to Know

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just getting started with using ladders, understanding the rules and safety measures is essential for preventing accidents and ensuring compliance. Most ladder injuries result from falls but other injures are caused by lifting a ladder, slipping or falling when carrying it, or the ladder collapsing or falling.

Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries. Work at height means work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.

Working at height regulations are put in place to protect workers from the risks associated with working at elevated levels. These regulations outline requirements for employers and employees regarding the safe use of ladders and other equipment.

1. What requirements must I comply with

Every time you use a ladder you must comply with the work at height regulations:

  • You must plan and organise the work
  • You must carry out a risk assessment
  • You must only use a ladder where a risk assessment shows the use of other work equipment is not practical
  • You must select and use the most appropriate work equipment
  • People working at height must be competent
  • You must ensure that equipment used for work at height is inspected and maintained

2. What is the Working Height of a Ladder?

The working height of a ladder refers to the maximum height at which it can be safely used. This includes both the height of the ladder itself and the reach of the person using it. Determining the working height is crucial for selecting the right ladder for the job and ensuring safety while working at elevated levels.

3. Maximum Height for Ladder/Working at Height Limit

While there isn’t a specific maximum height for ladders outlined universally, working at height limits are determined based on various factors such as the type of work, environment, and safety regulations. It’s crucial to assess these factors and choose the appropriate equipment, including ladders, scaffolding, or aerial work platforms, to safely perform tasks at elevated levels.

4. What Training Do You Need to Work at Height?

To work at height safely, proper training is essential. This includes understanding how to select and inspect equipment, use it correctly, and mitigate risks associated with working at elevated levels. Training should cover topics such as ladder safety, fall prevention, and emergency procedures to ensure workers are equipped to handle height-related tasks safely.

5. What is the 4 in 1 Ladder Rule?

To help make sure the ladder angle is at the safest position to work from- you should use the 1-in-4 rule. This is where the ladder should be one space or unit of measurement out for every four spaces or units up (a 75° angle)

Ladder Association

6. Precautions to Using a Ladder Safely:

  • Inspect the ladder before each use to ensure it’s in good condition, free of defects or damage.
  • Choose the right ladder for the job, considering factors such as height, weight capacity, and material.
  • Set up the ladder on a stable and level surface, ensuring the feet are secure and non-slip.
  • Maintain three points of contact while climbing or descending the ladder, such as two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand.
  • Avoid overreaching while on the ladder; reposition it as needed to maintain a safe working zone.

7. Telescopic ladders

Telescopic ladders are a variation of leaning ladders but remember that they don’t all work in the same way.
They should always be used, stored and transported with care and kept clean. In addition to following this guidance, it’s important you read and follow the user instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Before every use – in addition to the normal ladder checks – make sure they are operating correctly and that the mechanisms that lock each section are working properly.

8. StePladders

When using a stepladder to carry out a task:

  • Check all four stepladder feet are in contact with the ground and the steps are level
  • Only carry light materials and tools
  • Don’t overreach
  • Don’t stand and work on the top three steps (including a step forming the very top of the stepladder) unless there is a suitable handhold
  • Ensure any locking devices are engaged
  • Try to position the stepladder to face the work activity and not side on. However, there are occasions when a risk assessment may show it is safer to work side on, eg in a retail stock room when you can’t engage the stepladder locks to work face on because of space restraints in narrow aisles, but you can fully lock it to work side on
  • Try to avoid work that imposes a side loading, such as side-on drilling through solid materials (eg bricks or concrete)
  • Where side loadings cannot be avoided, you should prevent the steps from tipping over, eg by tying the steps. Otherwise, use a more suitable type of access equipment
  • Maintain three points of contact at the working position. This means two feet and one hand, or when both hands need to be free for a brief period, two feet and the body supported by the stepladder

9. Combination and multi-purpose ladders

Combination and multi-purpose ladders can be used as stepladders, a variation of stepladders or leaning ladders. Combination ladders are sometimes referred to as ‘A’ frame ladders.

These types of ladders can be used in a variety of different configurations. You should:

  • Check to ensure that any locking mechanism is properly engaged before use
  • Always recheck the locking mechanism if the setup of the ladder is changed
  • On three-part combination ladders, never extend the top section (the section extending above the A frame) beyond the limit marked on the ladder and specified in the user manual

10. Securing ladders and ladders used for access

Options for securing ladders

The options are as follows:

  • Tie the ladder to a suitable point, making sure both stiles are tied
  • Where this is not practical, secure the ladder with an effective ladder stability device
  • If this is not possible, securely wedge the ladder (eg wedge the stiles against a wall)
  • If you cannot achieve any of these options, foot the ladder. Footing is the last resort
  • Ladders used for access
  • For larger ladders, you may need to consider if more than one person is needed for safe handling into position and assembly.

In general:

  • Ladders used to access another level should be tied and extend at least 1 m above the landing point to provide a secure handhold
  • At ladder access points, a self-closing gate is recommended
  • Stepladders should not be used to access another level, unless they have been specifically designed for this

Working at height requires careful consideration of regulations, safety measures, and proper equipment usage. By understanding the working height of ladders, relevant regulations, training requirements, the 4 in 1 ladder rule, and safety precautions, you can minimise risks and ensure a safe working environment.

Our team is here to assist and advise on your access requirements, whether you need standard-fit ladders, customised fixed ladders using our online configurator, or a personalised site visit. At Murdoch International, we work with you to identify the best solution for your needs.

Contact us today:
☎️ 01908 107 211