When most of us look at this picture of a ladder resting on the top of a work van we find it completely ridiculous and assure ourselves that we would never be guilty of such a negligent act, but the truth is if we were all so ladder savvy we wouldn’t experience the number of ladder accidents that we do, particularly in the construction field.
Ladders are commonly utilised in both the commercial and private sectors but just because something is common doesn’t mean it is being used safely, in fact on the contrary people often make the mistake of thinking that ladder use is simple and doesn’t involve safe techniques because everyone uses them.
Reckless use of a ladder, such as that demonstrated above can be extremely dangerous and I wouldn’t want to be the one climbing that ladder!
The reckless ladder use above took place in London and was undertaken by 2 companies working in conjunction, Laser Roofing London (George Nicholls T/A) and Maintenance 24-7 Ltd.
The incident resulted in fines for the 2 companies equating to thousands of dollars after a local council environmental health officer happened to be passing by and captured the dangerous ladder use on camera. The double extension ladder used was resting on top of a van in order to access a third floor façade of a building.
The company involved was hired to undertake painting on the building by Maintenance 24-7 Ltd. who ironically did so because they didn’t have the adequate equipment and expertise to carry out the painting.
This is a clear case of “improvisation” presenting a risk to worker safety. When the correct tools and equipment aren’t at hand, many contractors and workers decide to improvise in order to “save” time and money.
The following excerpt from a post on the British safety website PPConstructionSafety.com explains:
The court was told this system was fraught with risk including:
workers at risk of falling from ladder or van;
no segregation to prevent vehicles or pedestrians passing under or near the work area;
public at risk of being struck by falling equipment or materials;
van parked over a bus stop on a busy road with double yellow lines; and
a Pavement Licence should have been obtained to create a properly segregated safe-working area.
Scaffolding or a mobile elevated work platform would have provided a safer option for accessing the façade.
Blatantly and recklessly risked harming others
Following the hearing in the South Hampton court, the health inspector involved Frank Flannery was quoted as saying,
“The photographic evidence speaks for itself in terms of the risks created. Anyone can see the system of work is plain wrong, so why a supposedly competent roofer chose to work in this way is anyone’s guess.
According to Flannery the contractor involved displayed a blatant and reckless disregard of safety, placing himself and others at risk. The company obviously failed to ensure work at height was properly planned, managed and executed.