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Ladders remain a big safety concern

Contractors should be aware of unsafe working practices with ladders, warns the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

The organisation is also calling for the Government to commit to adequate training and to put more inspectors on sites.

The Health and Safety Executive has identified accidents in small construction firms and with self-employed builders as the area of most concern.

“We tend not to see as many serious accidents in that sector but they’re not as regulated as the rest of the industry and there’s not as much training for these people due to time and financial constraints,” says IOSH committee member Philip Baker.

Smaller firms lack the equipment and technology that help larger forms work safer.

“We don’t see a massive rise in incidents involving cherry pickers although they are gaining in popularity,” says Mr Baker. He says contractors pay more attention to safety when working with new pieces of kit.

“In my experience, it is often familiarity that breeds contempt. People are often over-familiar with ladders and steps, whereas with new pieces of lifting equipment they are cautious.”

He says hire companies are doing their job in getting across information on safe working, but it is left to contractors to take their advice.

IOSH last month called for Government funding for an eventual doubling of the number of inspectors.

Mr Baker says this would help the HSE target small construction firms. He adds that the push for safer working on site will come from clients.

“Half the HSE’s successful actions have been against clients,” he says.