Fixed ladder safety and compliance

Fixed ladders are so ubiquitous on sites across the UK that many people often don’t even notice they are there until they need to use them. However, when it does come time to put them into use, you need to be certain that they are completely safe and compliant to current health and safety standards.

Pre-use checks are vital every time you, or one of your workers, come to use the ladder. Before you put one foot on the ladder, you should check:

  • That items that may present slips, trips, falls and impact hazards are not present
  • That all fixings are secure
  • All moving parts are in working order
  • That rungs and hoops are not damaged

These checks will ensure a baseline level of quality and hopefully mean you can be confident the ladder will not collapse with general use.

However, just carrying out pre-use checks does not mean you will be meeting the level of responsibility required of you by health and safety regulations. Beyond this, you are expected to have your ladder inspected by a competent and trained third party professional at least once a year.


Compliance check

The safety engineer employed will carry out a range of industry standard checks on your ladder, ranging from checking the quality of the construction, to checking whether the ladder is even compliant with standards.

These inspections will confirm that:

  • The ladder is not used where it would be practical to install a conventional staircase
  • The ladder is of sound construction, properly maintained and securely fixed
  • It is sufficiently rigid and stable to ensure safety of the user under normal conditions
  • Handrails extend at least 1100mm above landing
  • Stiles extend to the height of guarding
  • The ladder does not exceed 6m without an intermediate landing
  • The ladder has hoops where necessary
  • Adequate fall protection such as cages where necessary, such as if there is a fall risk of more than 2m
  • Hoops are a maximum of 900mm apart
  • Hoops do not exceed 1500mm apart with uprights and are not more than 300mm apart
  • The width between the strings is between 300mm (400mm preferred) and 600mm
  • Handrails open out to between 600mm and 700mm above the landing
  • Rungs could withstand 1.5kN and have a diameter of 20-35mm
  • The top rung is level with the platform
  • Rise between rungs is between 225mm to 300mm
  • There is a minimum 200mm clear space should be behind each rung
  • Clear space on the user side is at least 600mm

Once these checks have been carried out, you will be issued with a certificate of compliance, or advised on the changes you need to make to reach the necessary level of compliance.

As with any type of work, inspection and recertification of fixed ladders should only be carried out by those who are competent to do so and is not something that can be carried out by any worker.  

Only a competent person or company will be able to assess the risks and carry out the work safely and in accordance with the work at height hierarchy.

Safesite’s competent and experienced engineers carry out hundreds of fixed ladder inspections each year across the UK. For more information about our inspection and recertification service, call us on 01293 529977 or use our online contact form.

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