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Ecclesistical & Heritage World No.92

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Are you safe working at height compliant?

The working at height regulations cover all occupations and places of work, placing duties on the employers, employees, self-employed and persons who control the work of others.They apply to every work place and all occupations, including volunteers who offer their services at ecclesiastical and heritage sites, stately homes, castles and even zoo’s.

The regulations clearly state that works must be planned, organised and carried out by a competent person.

During a recent conversation, Brian Middlemiss of Nimrod Training Providers was astounded to hear that a surveyor carrying out a quinquennial inspection of a parish church was loaned a ladder from a parishioner (the local farmer) to enable access to the belfry.

Brian takes up the story: "It was assumed that the surveyor was competent in the use of ladders and possessed the required knowledge, experience and training to use the ladder, although no formal checks on his competence was carried out. To assume competence can lead to accidents and prosecutions from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

"One could consider that if the surveyor had been competent, he would have brought his own ladders ensuring that they were suitable for the works to be carried out and were in good condition."

There are three grades of ladder suitable for works carried out in a in working environment - Class 1 Industrial ladders, EN131 Light Trade ladders and EN131 Professional ladders. Class 3 ladders are solely for domestic use and should never be used in any work environment.

Brian continued: "A recent prosecution against a famous zoo (a charitable organisation) revealed that improper use of step ladders resulted in a subsequent injury to one of its volunteers. It lead to a £160,000 fine, however due to mitigating circumstances the fine was finally reduced by the judge to £50,000 - which is still a huge fine for any charity to pay!!!

"It is important to check and record that your staff are fully trained and competent in the use of ladders and stepladders. Ensure the ladders are regularly inspected by a competent person as nobody wants an accident or a costly prosecution."

Accredited ladder training for both users and inspectors can be provided by the Ladder Association. Nimrod are members of the Association and happy to offer their guidance.

To find out more visit www.nimrod-training.co.uk