Is Health & Safety going a Step too Far?

Health and Safety guidelines covering the use of stepladders are forcing builders to put up scaffolding even for minor jobs and customers have to foot the bill for the additional cost.

The HSE guidelines state that whilst working from a ladder, 3 points of contact must be maintained, this means that both feet and one hand must be kept on the ladder at all times. It also states that workers must not work from the top 3 rungs as they are to be used as a handhold only.

The HSE regularly carries out spot checks and any firm found flouting the rules risks prosecution. Allan Buchan of the Confederation of Roofing Contractors said of the rules “The health & and safety people have gone crazy to the point where our members think it’s not worth using a ladder. They would be prosecuted if anything went wrong and the householder could be held responsible, too. Even if it’s a flat roof you are supposed to use scaffolding and if you use a ladder you’ve got to have a man at the bottom all the time.”

It can cost more than the job itself to erect scaffolding but with many firms giving up the use of ladders even where they are possibly the most suitable means of access the cost of even minor building work is set to go up.

45 workers died and a further 3,750 were injured last year after falls at work.


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