Hooped ladders (aka ‘caged’ ladders)

Briefing note on Hooped ladders and the use of personal fall-arrest systems

On 10th July 2012 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued a Safety Notice, Bulletin No: CCID 1-2012, Hooped ladders and the use of personal fall-arrest systems. The safety notice was issued to remind duty holders of the need to fully assess the risks from work at height activities (and to provide context and explanation for Research Report 657 published on its website). HSE notes that, “The report contains useful information … and HSE is taking action on many of the report findings. It is, however, important to note that claims and conclusions presented in the report are not representative of HSE policy”.

The bulletin states that users should be aware of the possible limitations of personal fall-arrest equipment used inside a hooped ladder to arrest a fall and the nature of the risks it may present. Users should, “make appropriate provision as part of their risk assessment” and duty holders, “should also consider their rescue plan and the use of climbing helmets to reduce the risk of injury from striking the hoops”.

The bulletin requires that duty holders should carry out risk assessments to see whether work at height can be avoided or if the provision of a safer means of access is reasonably practicable. Risk assessments should take into account this latest guidance.

Whilst the number of incidents of falling from within hooped ladders is relatively few (the incidence rate is not known), it has been known to have fatal consequences. The selection of appropriate and suitable access/egress must be ‘risk based’. For example, the control measures considered appropriate for a 3m occasional climb up to an internal mezzanine floor are different to those required for a frequent climb up an external 50m mast.

David Thomas, Technical Director, heightec, said, “Hooped ladders without personal fall protection are most appropriate for low heights and infrequent use only. A fall sustained within a hooped ladder is likely to result in injuries, even if personal fall protection equipment is used”.

heightec has prepared advice on the issues to be considered when undertaking a risk assessment. To see the full article click here

©The heightec Group Ltd, September 2012

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