Electrical Contracting News (ECN) May 2017 - Page 48

SPECIAL FEATURE TOOLS & WORKWEAR ALL SHOCK UP Installer safety is paramount for all electrical contractors. Using the right equipment might seem obvious to most, but each year workers suffer entirely avoidable shocks whilst at work by not getting the basics right. Paul Bruton, product development director at WernerCo, addresses the importance of ladder safety and correct material choice. I n 2013/14, falls from height were found to be the most common cause of fatalities at work, accounting for nearly three in 10 (29 per cent) fatal injuries to workers (RIDDOR statistics). In the year previous (2012/13), there were 46 fatalities and 11,506 major injuries; of which the majority occurred in the construction or related sectors. These are worrying statistics, but they do demonstrate that much work still needs to be done to press home the vital importance of appropriate work at height training for contractors and installers. Using the right equipment for the job is at the heart of the issue, and for most professional tradespeople the ladder is a central bit of kit. For electrical contractors and electrical installers, this choice is more pertinent in terms of health and safety considerations, as the risk of shock must be factored in as well as the necessary work at height safeguards. Degree of confusion In April 2005, following the changes to the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) Work at Height Regulations (WAHR), there was a degree of confusion over whether ladders could be used on work sites as part of a safe work at height practice. Of course, this is categorically not the case. The HSE today states only that an appropriate risk assessment must be carried out prior to use, to ensure that the most appropriate equipment is used for the job – be it a ladder or an access tower. Safe usage is at the heart of all HSE recommendations, and where contractors are concerned, safe use means using fibreglass construction ladders when electrical work is undertaken. Each year in the UK, workers from across the electrical sector experience shocks from ladders that are not suitable for the job. Despite being what to many would be an obvious consideration, there are still installers who either don’t use fibreglass ladders or who aren’t supplied with one by their employer. Fibreglass ladders are non-conductive so should always be used for utilities work or electrical contracting. 48 | May 2017 To aid productivity, choose a fibreglass stepladder with storage options for tools and other equipment. There will inevitably be a cost differential between fibreglass and aluminium models, but purchasers are advised to always buy approved products and also to steer clear of cheaper alternatives that might not be fit for purpose. 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