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Article Date: 30th September 2013

Bilco - Fixed Ladders should be a First Consideration, not an Afterthought, says Bilco, as HSE Inspections find Construction Industry still Risks Falls from Height

Fixed and Retractable Ladders - Roof Access Hatches - Smoke Vents

Bilco - fixed ladders should be a first consideration

In commercial and multiple occupancy buildings, the UK is still too slow to adopt the use of fixed ladders, says Bilco, one of the UK’s leading providers of fixed and retractable ladders, roof access hatches and smoke vents. “Although it also covered domestic refurbishments, the HSE’s September campaign of unannounced inspections revealed too many instances of unsafe use of ladders and missed opportunities to update safer access to roof areas. We ourselves see arrangements which could be made much safer by the use of internal fixed ladders where regular access to a property’s roof is required,” says James Fisher, General Manager for Bilco. “A major refurbishment should be seen as a golden opportunity to enhance safety by replacing precarious moveable ladder arrangements or external fixed ladders up the side of the building with a safer fixed option.”

Statistics show, the company argues, that fixed internal ladders are safer; they can also enhance security. Replacing long external ladders with shorter internal fixed ladders helps safeguard operatives who need to visit the roof for legitimate routine maintenance and occasional repairs to heating, air conditioning and telecoms equipment. It also means less opportunity for unauthorised intruders or burglars to enter the building via the roof. “We should be seeing safer roof access as a main priority in refurbishment projects, and in order to improve safety on construction sites, these should be a first consideration, not an afterthought,” adds James Fisher. “Make this safer provision at the start of the project and you automatically improve safety onsite from the earliest opportunity.”

Further simple measures, such as the installation of Bilco’s LadderUp® Safety Post, which extends easily to allow three points of contact as the operative enters or exits a roof hatch at the top of the ladder, can also help to greatly reduce falls from height, says Bilco. Bilco also provides a range of both fixed and retractable ladder designs which can be easily paired with Bilco roof access hatches.

The HSE made a series of unannounced inspection visits to more than 1,000 construction sites, mainly in the refurbishment sector, across the UK, from 2 to 27 September 2013. It issued Contravention Notices at just under half for failing to meet safety standards.

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