It is not always cost-effective, or necessary, to call in trades people to carry out routine maintenance jobs around a business premises. However, some premises management tasks require you to work at height and this introduces an additional hazard to your workplace.
Risks associated with routine premises management
Some of the routine jobs that may require you to work at height could include:
- Erecting and maintaining signage
- Routine maintenance tasks such as clearing out gutters
- Replacing light bulbs in ceiling lights
- Organising high level shelving
All of these can be carried out efficiently and safely by business owners and employees if the task is carefully managed. Ladders are a sensible and practical option for low-risk, short duration tasks but if they are not used correctly they present a hazard to you and everyone around you!
Working safely at a height using ladders
Start by carefully assessing the premises management task by thinking about where it will take place and who will do it. Does it involve tools? Does it require more than one person? It is only safe to use a ladder where the ground/floor surface is suitable and where the risks of it being kicked, knocked or struck by a vehicle have been considered.
Choosing and using a ladder
There are a large number of ladders to choose from but it is essential to choose the right equipment for each job.
- Use steps for low-level jobs: For lower level tasks an aluminium platform steps or a steel kick step may be the most appropriate. Both of these products are compact, easy to store and have non-slip platforms as an additional safety feature.
- For mid-level jobs a step ladder is best: If the job is at a higher level, it may be necessary to use a step ladder. However, step ladders are not suitable for lower work or very high work. You must be able to complete the task comfortably and without overreaching up, down or sideways. As a rough guide, it is generally accepted that the highest standing level is four rungs down from the top. Some aluminium step ladders have additional safety features such as a safety rail with bucket hook which makes working at a height easier and safer.
- Combination ladders are essential for working at a high level: For the higher level tasks it is likely that you will need a combination ladder. These ladders are frequently used for outdoor tasks as they can be used on uneven ground and are weather-proof and durable.
Before any work at a height is attempted some ‘pre-use’ checks of your steps, step ladders and ladders should be carried out. The checks should include all parts including the rungs, locking mechanism and steps or treads. A ladder that is in any way twisted, dented, cracked, or loose is no longer a safe piece of equipment. Employee training should address this along with appropriate placement and correct use of the ladder or steps. These simple procedures can ensure the safety of yourself, employees and members of the public.
We can help with your choice of ladder. At Office Furniture Online we provide an extensive range of steps and ladders and can supply you with the safest equipment for every job.