We are pleased to share the following story from The Ladder Association, which is allied to our aim of reducing and eventually eliminating falls from height.
The Ladder Association, in partnership with Trading Standards departments across the East of England, is getting ready to undertake a significant Ladder Surveillance Survey, to investigate the conformity of ladders with product standard EN 131 in the supply chain and address ongoing concerns with the availability and use of substandard and potentially dangerous ladders on the UK market.
Focusing initially on telescopic ladders, the Ladder Association will be working with the UK-based Certification Body and Test Laboratory, the Test and Research Centre, to test a sample of telescopic ladders, from various sources, against a range of key strength tests.
The Surveillance Survey is the result of a growing and hugely successful relationship between the Test and Research Centre and Suffolk County Council Trading Standards Imports Team, who together, have stopped over 800 dangerous ladders from entering the UK market through the Port of Felixstowe, in the last 18 months alone. Not only was there an issue with the quality of those ladders tested (they failed numerous dimension, strength and deflection tests), but even more worryingly, the ladders all appeared to have ‘official’ labelling, making it extremely difficult for ladder users to know what ‘good’ looks like.
Gail Hounslea, Chairman of the Ladder Association, said: “It is clear from the work already done with Trading Standards, there is a real problem with sub-standard ladders making their way into the homes and workplaces of unsuspecting ladders users. These ladders are dangerous, liable to cause injury and need to be stopped.
“We also know from accident statistics* that a significant number of injuries in the home and for leisure activities involve work at height equipment (one every 10 minutes requiring a trip to A&E). That’s a frightening statistic. This Surveillance Survey will not only root out dangerous ladders, but the findings will also help us develop clearer guidance for consumers and businesses to give them the added confidence to make smarter and safer ladder buying decisions.
“Let’s not forget though, the role retailers have to play here too. It doesn’t matter if they’re an independent high street store or a major online retailer, they must take responsibility for due diligence when offering ladders for sale. Yes, we can educate consumers, but the reality is the products shouldn’t be there for sale in the first place.”
John Darby, Test and Research Centre General Manager, said: “Our work with Local Authority Trading Standards in the East of England, and particularly Suffolk’s surveillance activities at the Port of Felixstowe, have found some truly dangerous ladders, it would only be a matter of time before they caused a serious injury or a fatality. Consumers in the UK have a legal right to assume a product is safe if it is placed on the market for them to buy – and we will do everything we can to highlight the unsafe ones.”
For further information on ladder safety, including our latest guidance ‘LA455 Safe Use of Ladders and Stepladders’, jointly produced by the Ladder Association and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), visit www.ladderassociation.org.uk/guidance
*HASS/LASS - Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance System