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You need to think of your safety every time you carry out any work at height – the risk of falling and injuring yourself means that it needs to be a top priority. Yes, you need to follow all of the sensible safety precautions but you are also highly dependent on the safety equipment that you wear and use.

When you are working at height professionally, the right safety equipment to use should be determined by a risk assessment. But if you’re just carrying out some DIY tasks that require working off the ground then you may need to consider what kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) you need to be wearing as well as any other safety equipment that may be necessary.

Let’s take a look at the kind of safety gear and equipment you should be using when you are required to work at height.

Collective protection measures

If you’re going to be working on access equipment such as a scaffold tower, you need to make sure that it has been correctly set up and features collective protection measures such as guard rails. This is the most important kind of safety gear – those that are built into the access equipment act as a natural defence against falling.

Head protection

Regardless whether you’re on a scaffold tower or a ladder, it’s important to wear the correct PPE. This starts with head protection. A hardhat is vital, especially if there are people working with you at height. When they are above you, a piece of equipment could be dropped which could severely injure you. It may not be necessary to wear a helmet if you’re simply carrying out DIY.

Sensible footwear

While not necessarily a piece of PPE, your footwear needs to be sensible. You need to wear shoes that are both comfortable and hard-wearing; if you’re going to be standing on a ladder you need to feel as secure as possible. That means your footwear should be sturdy and have plenty of grip – certainly no sandals or open-toe shoes.

Eye protection

Depending on the work that you are going to be carrying out, it may be necessary for you to wear goggles or another form of eye protection. Any time there is a risk of dust or debris getting into your eyes, you need to be wearing some form of protection. Blurry sight or irritated eyes at height are really not something you want.

Appropriate gloves

Remember to wear appropriate gloves. If you’re working out in cold conditions these will be essential and they may also be necessary if you’re using hand tools. However, be aware that while thick and heavy gloves can provide protection, they can also mean you will lose dexterity. 

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

Top tips for scaffold tower storage

17 August 2017 08:26:52 GMT

When it comes to scaffold tower safety, most people think it only applies when the tower is setup and being used. But it’s important to remember that a big part of safe use comes in storing and unpacking a tower. You need to take your scaffold tower storage seriously. Of course the best way for you to do this is to check the advice found in the instructions from the manufacturer, but in general you can follow the rules below to ensure your tower will stay in optimal condition.

Scaffold Tower

Where to store

Many people have a rule for where they store their scaffold tower: wherever there is the space for it. But choosing the right place for storage with a suitable environment is extremely important for its longevity – a tower is more likely to stay in good condition for longer if it has been stored correctly. The best possible area for tower storage will be covered and protected from the weather but also well ventilated. It should not be too hot or damp to ensure that the materials of the tower are not weakened or rusted by the conditions.  

Think safety first

It is also vital that you should think of safety first at all times when you come to store your tower. First, it should be pointed out that the tower should be completely disassembled so that it is easy to handle the next time you come to set it up. Additionally it’s worth pointing out that it’s a good idea to store all the parts of your tower at ground level or within a container so that there is no risk of any part the tower falling if it is stored at height.

Store them as you would like to find them

A good rule to follow when it comes to storing your tower is to pack away and store it in the manner that you would like to find it. Make sure that the parts are clean and dry before you pay them away, and that all of the parts are kept together in a neat and tidy fashion. There is nothing more frustrating than coming to set up a scaffold tower only to find that you have to spend hours sorting out the parts.

Make sure the instructions are stored safely

Finally, you must remember that one of the most important features of the scaffold tower to keep safe is the instructions. Without the manufacturer’s instructions, you won’t be able to set up the tower in accordance with health and safety regulations. That means you need to either have a safe place to store the instructions with the tower itself or you must create some sort of filling system that allows you to easily find the manual for this specific scaffold tower.

If you have any further question about scaffold towers, the team at Precipitous have years of experience in supplying a huge range of different models. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have on them. Please get in contact today for more information.

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

How to trim hedges safely

10 August 2017 08:22:34 GMT

Hedges don’t typically need an awful lot of maintenance, but if they are left for too long without any pruning they can begin to look out of control and scruffy. If you’ve got a hedge that is starting to get a little unkempt it could be time to put in a bit of work. But trimming hedges can involve elements of risk including the use of power tools and working at height, so it’s vital that you make safety a priority. Here is how to stay safe while you trim your hedges.

Trimming hedges safely and using the right safety equipment

Use the right tools

The first step is to ensure that you have the right tools for the job. This will depend on the type of hedge and the overall size of the job. If you’ve got a fairly small hedge or you’re just doing a bit of gentle pruning, it’s probably best to work by hand with a pair of high quality shears. Ideally you should choose shears with adjustable blade tension as well as cushioned handles.

If you’re working with a larger hedge or you really need to work trimming back a very overgrown shrub, you will likely need to use an electric hedge trimmer. You can choose a trimmer that plugs into the mains – this is good if the job is close enough to a power socket, which is fine in most small or medium-sized gardens. Alternatively, if you prefer working without a clumsy cord or need to move a long way away from a power source, cordless hedge trimmers are available.

Get your technique right

When you’re working with any kind of cutting device, such as a trimmer or shears, there are always going to be risks. That means you need to get your technique right to ensure there is no risk of you injuring yourself. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using your trimmer. Not only will this mean that you will get the job done quicker, it will also ensure that you are protected from the sharp edges of the device.

Working at height

When you need to trim very tall hedges, you may need to work at height. This can be the point that you are exposed to the most risk. Many people use whichever ladder they have to hand and might use dangerous practices such as leaning the ladder against a hedge. It’s a much better idea to invest in some access equipment that is actually suitable such as a step ladder with a platform.

Wear the right clothes

Finally, it might seem like a trivial point but if you are going to carry out this sort of work, you need to be wearing the right clothes. If you’re going to be working on a step ladder you need sensible footwear with plenty of grip. It’s also a good idea to wear eye and ear protection if you’re using a loud, electric trimmer. 

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

Best types of ladder for DIY

3 August 2017 08:15:06 GMT

If you are planning on carrying out DIY tasks around the house, you’re going to need a good quality ladder. But with such a huge range of different types of ladder available, which one is right for you? Here we examine the most popular types of ladder for DIY tasks. 

Extension ladder

Extension Ladder

Extension ladders are some of the most commonly used for DIY. Consisting of either two or three parts, extension ladders can be slid apart and locked in place, allowing you to reach up to a variety of different heights. Usually starting at 2.5m, some of the larger models can extend in excess of 10m meaning there is almost no task around the house that they can’t be used to perform.

These are highly convenient ladders as they can be stored at their closed height but used to reach up to a much higher point. Many people have this sort of ladder for their DIY work, but there are actually a number of different types of ladder that could be more useful. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Platform step ladder

The major advantage of the platform step ladder is that it gives you a stable platform that you can work from. This makes it ideal for tasks like painting or hanging wallpaper. This means that they are one of the most comfortable ladders for DIY, and even offer higher levels of safety if you choose a model with a handrail.

Combination 3 way ladder

Combination Ladder

Combination 3 way ladders are probably the most versatile and multifunctional type of ladder available. In one product you have a functional extension ladder, step ladder and stair ladder that can be set up whichever way is most useful to the task at hand. If you are planning lots of DIY work to your property but only have the space to store one type of ladder, this could be the perfect one for you as it can fulfil the functions of multiple ladders.

There are multiple forms of combination 3 way ladders available including fibreglass models that are designed to be safe to use around live electricity. You could also choose a light model if you are going to be moving the ladder around a significant amount.

Roof ladder

If you know that you are going to be getting a lot of DIY work done on a pitched roof, buying a roof ladder is essential. On one side of the ladder there are wheels, which allow you to slide the ladder along the roof without damaging the slates or tiles. On the other side are hooks that fit over the top of the roof.

You simply slide the wheeled side of the ladder along the roof, then turn it over to hook it in place. This makes it easy to carry out simple tasks on your roof.  

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

When most people need to buy a stepladder they will look at options like aluminium and wood. But it’s worth knowing that you could also choose fibreglass. Fibreglass is a strong material that is becoming more popular both in trades and at home. But why should you choose a fibreglass stepladder over a traditional material? Here are the advantages of choosing fibreglass.

They don’t conduct electricity

The major advantage for fibreglass stepladders over their metal counterparts is that they do not conduct electricity. This means that you can safely use your stepladder while carrying out any kind of electrical work. Other materials have similar non-conductive properties, such as wood, but fibreglass holds a number of advantages over wood.

They are heat resistant

Unlike both wood and steel stepladders, fibreglass is a material that is highly resistant to heat and flames. This means that in hazardous conditions it can be far better to have a fibreglass model available to you over any other option.

They are strong

Fibreglass is a very strong and durable man-made material – far stronger than natural materials that are often used for stepladders, such as wood. This means that every time you step onto the fibreglass stepladder you can have complete confidence in their strength. It’s worth remembering that while aluminium ladders are also very strong, there are different grades of the metal, so choosing a cheap aluminium stepladder could mean that it is made of a relatively weak material.

They can endure bad weather conditions 

Fibreglass is not adversely affected by poor weather. It doesn’t have issues with rust or corrosion. This means that if you are going to be using your stepladder outside, it could be best to invest in a fibreglass model.

There are no issues with weight

One of the disadvantages of fibreglass ladders compared to aluminium models is that they weigh a lot more. This means that they can be relatively inconvenient as they are harder to move around – this puts some people off buying fibreglass ladders. However, with stepladders this is much less of a concern as they are smaller and the additional weight does not make them significantly more difficult to move around.

If you are interested in buying a fibreglass stepladder or you would like to get more information on the range of models available, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us here at Precipitous today. Our team comprises experts in all forms of access equipment and we would be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

Garden safety for working at height

17 July 2017 08:36:19 GMT

Sometimes it’s necessary to work at height in order to keep your garden in good shape. But whether you’re a DIY enthusiast with a range of ladders for different tasks, or you’ve never had to think about working at height before, it is important that you take care. Anyone can be at risk of an accident when they work at height if they don’t prioritise safety.

When do you need to work at height in the garden?

There are plenty of tasks in the garden that could require you to work at height. The most common occurrence is when you need to get access in order to trim hedges or trees, but there are a range of other reasons too. This could include maintenance work on a greenhouse, shed or conservatory, or carrying out DIY work on the outside of the house.

No matter what kind of task you’re working on, you need to take safety seriously. While you might feel comfortable and safe in your own garden, any time you have to work at height it is vital you take the correct safety precautions.

Ladder safety checks

Most work at height in the garden involves using some sort of ladder, so it’s very important you understand ladder safety and carry out checks before you use them. Firstly, make sure that you examine the ladder carefully to ensure it is clean, undamaged and in good general condition. A ladder in poor condition could be at risk of buckling, sliding or falling when you use it.

Then follow the correct procedures for setting up the ladder, including only ever working on a flat and level surface. Also remember that you should never use a ladder that isn’t suitable for the job at hand. If the ladder is too short, or doesn’t allow you to work comfortably you need to use a different form of access equipment.

Using tools

Working at height while using tools adds another range of safety hazards. You need to be sure that you can safely carry the tool up and down the ladder and that any cables that you use are designed for outdoor use. Also ensure that the equipment has a cut-off so that if stops immediately if you have an accident.

It should also be obvious, but remember never to use electric power tools or a strimmer in wet weather.

The right equipment

You also need to make sure that you are always using the correct equipment. This starts with what you wear while you work at height – choose sensible closed-toe footwear as an essential. It is also worth considering other personal protective equipment such as gloves as well as eye and ear protection.

Additionally, you need to use the right sort of ladder for the work you’re carrying out. You must be able to use the ladder safely and in the way that the manufacturer recommends in order to carry out the work without risk. If you can’t do this then you should look into purchasing another ladder. 

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

Whether you’re just carrying out a bit of DIY or you’re using it professionally, a ladder can be a vital piece of equipment for a huge range of maintenance and construction tasks. When there is a task that we need to carry out, many of us instinctively reach for the ladder and get to work as quickly as possible. But it is essential that you should thoroughly check over your ladder each time you use it. Just like any piece of DIY equipment, a ladder will deteriorate with time. And unfortunately a ladder is at most risk of buckling or falling when it is supporting someone’s weight.

No matter how small the job is, you should give your ladder the once-over each time. Here are the six things that you need to check on your ladder before you use it.

1 - The stiles

The first part of the ladder you need to check are the stiles. Running down the side of the ladder, the stiles are arguably the most fundamental part of the equipment. If they are bent or split in any way then you should not use the ladder as it could be at risk of collapsing.

2 - The feet

Make sure that you check the feet of the ladder not only to see whether they are worn or damaged, but also because they could be wet or dirty. This could cause the ladder to slide out from under you while you are using it. Also, make sure that the feet are still present. Modern ladders have rubber stoppers and you should not attempt to use a ladder without them.

3 - The rungs

Check each rung individually, even if you don’t think that you will have to use them. And also never use a ladder that has rungs that are missing or loose. You might think that it is fine to just avoid specific rungs, but you’re simply putting yourself at unnecessary risk.

4 - The locking bars

If your ladder has locking bars then you need to check them over thoroughly to be sure that they work correctly and are not bent or damaged. If the locking bars go, the whole ladder will collapse.

5 - The treads

Make sure you also check over the treads to ensure that they are not slippery or damaged. Once again, if you notice a problem, don’t take the risk. Rather than working on an unsafe ladder, replace the part or get a new one.

6 - The platforms

If you’re using a ladder that has a platform, make sure that this is still strong and will support weight. The last thing you want is for the platform to go while you are standing on it, so check it over thoroughly beforehand. 

If you discover any problems with your ladder you shouldn’t hesitate to replace it. Please contact us at Precipitous and we would be happy to offer advice and guidance on the right ladder for the work you want to carry out. 

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

When NOT to use a scaffold tower

3 July 2017 08:25:08 GMT

When it comes to working at height, you need to prioritise safety. Using the incorrect equipment for the job not only endangers those working and puts them at a risk of injury, but it can also be hazardous for people on the ground below them. That’s why it is often recommended that those working at height should use a scaffold tower, which is one of the safest forms of access equipment. But it’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean that you should use a tower in every scenario. Let’s have a look at some of the times when you should not use a scaffold tower.

In poor weather conditions

You should not attempt to work at height in bad weather – and this certainly applies to scaffold towers too. Working on a tower in wind and rain can be very dangerous. In fact, it is recommended that any time winds reach speeds of more than 17mph you should stop work immediately. And if it is forecast to reach more than 40mph, the scaffold tower needs to be disassembled completely.

When it is safer to use alternative access equipment

Using a scaffold tower is often seen as the safest form of access. And while this is often true, it is not always the case. Firstly, it should be noted that you should never use a scaffold tower if it is not appropriate for the situation. For example, if you have to set up the tower incorrectly or use it in a way that is not recommended by the manufacturer, it can be very dangerous.

In some cases it may be more appropriate to use equipment such as a ladder, especially if the job is short and low risk.

When your tower is not high enough

It was previously mentioned that you should not use a scaffold tower in a way that is not recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions. However, it is also worth individually noting that if you can’t reach high enough to carry out the work, under no circumstances should you modify the tower so that you can reach higher. Using a tower in this way can cause it to be completely unsafe and put it at risk of toppling over.

If your tower is not high enough then you need to look into purchasing a taller tower or a different form of access equipment that will allow you to carry out the work without putting yourself or others in danger.

Around powerlines

This one might seem obvious, but you need to remember never use a metal scaffold tower near electrical hazards such as powerlines. As the tower conducts electricity, anyone working on the scaffold tower would be put at risk of serious electric shocks. You could look into purchasing a fibreglass scaffold tower instead, as these don’t conduct electricity and can be used safely around powerlines. 

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

If you have a DIY task that requires a ladder, it’s important to take the proper safety precautions. Even tasks that seem quick and easy can put you in a dangerous position if you aren’t using your ladder correctly. Here are four common mistakes that people make when using a ladder.

Working with old equipment

For many people, working at height is something that is a very occasional DIY task. It could be when you need to paint the house or clean the gutters, and it’s likely that you’ll have an old ladder stored somewhere that you get out when it’s needed. Unfortunately it’s commonplace for people to actually wear down their ladder – partly due to general use but also because it is not being stored in ideal conditions.

This can then lead to a problem that you’ll get out the ladder one day and it will be no longer suitable for use. So if you have one ladder that you use occasionally and that you have had for a long time you need to make sure that you thoroughly check over the ladder each time. Working at height can be very dangerous if your ladder is damaged or worn out. 

Not using the right ladder for the job

Remember that checking to make sure the ladder is not worn down is not the only thing that you need to consider. If you’ve just got the one ladder available it might be natural that you would use it for any kind of work at height that you need to carry out. But this can lead to the issue where you are using the wrong kind of ladder for the job.

It is always vital to use the correct ladder to stay safe. There are many different options available, including fibreglass ladders – perfect if you’re going to work near live electrical currents. Also be aware of the height that you need to reach. You should never be in a position where you need to have your feet on the top three rungs of the ladder. In this situation you should always opt for a taller ladder instead.

Working alone

Whenever you work at height you should have someone with you. This even goes for those tasks that you could easily do yourself. Working on a ladder comes with the natural risk that you could fall. Not only is this risk greater if you don’t have someone working with you, but it also means that there will no-one to raise the alarm if you get injured.

Always make sure that someone is available to supervise you as you work, even if they aren’t doing any work themselves, they can keep you safe.

Setting up the ladder incorrectly

You need to make sure that the ladder is set up correctly. Firstly, no matter what kind of ladder you’re working with, both feet need to be set on a stable surface at ground level. It also needs to be placed against a surface that it cannot slide down. Always opt to lean it against a flat surface rather than something jutting out, such as a window frame. You should follow the manufacturers’ guidelines for the setting up of your specific ladder. 

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

If you ever need to carry out work at height – either professionally or at home – it can be a brilliant idea to invest in a scaffold tower. Scaffold towers offer a range of additional features which often makes them superior to ladders in terms of effectiveness and safety. It’s no surprise then, that they are becoming more and more popular across the UK.

There are three different ways that you can get your hands on a scaffold tower, all with different advantages and disadvantages. However, it’s also true that there are a number of elements that are common to all of these options. Firstly, you should always buy through an established and trusted dealer. It might be tempting to save money but you could be buying a flawed or worn-out tower that isn’t safe to be used. Secondly, make sure that the tower is truly fit for purpose. Yes, a scaffold tower can be enormously valuable but if it’s not the right piece of kit for the job, using it can be potentially dangerous.

Finally, never opt for a scaffold tower purely on the basis of price. Getting a tower cheaply that’s wrong for the job or is not up to the correct safety standards is simply a false economy. You’ll either end up having to buy a replacement or someone will get hurt. If you make the right choices, you’ll get a scaffold tower that is perfect for your needs. So, here are the three different options you have if you’re looking to buy a scaffold tower.

Option 1: Buy new

The first and most obvious option is to find a high quality scaffold tower supplier and buy a tower brand new. Naturally this comes with the advantage that you are getting a high quality product that is perfect for your requirements. This gives you the chance to choose from a wide range of possibilities including fibreglass towers and extra tall towers. Just as with any other product, buying a new scaffold tower is typically the most expensive option. So if you are working to a strict budget then it may be a better idea for you to go with option 2 or 3.

Option 2: Buy second-hand

Buying a second hand scaffold tower can be a great way to pick up the equipment you need at a lower price. When you buy from an experienced and trusted dealer, you know that you’ll be getting an excellent product that has been thoroughly inspected to ensure it is completely safe and in good condition. Just make sure that you are buying the correct product for your needs. It can sometimes be tempting to up for a cheaper product that isn’t quite right for you – but when you use a scaffold tower that isn’t fit for requirements, you are putting yourself in danger.

Option 3: Hire

Finally, you should consider the third option – not buying at all. It’s possible to hire scaffold towers from many suppliers. This option may be best if you only need the tower for one job or you are unlikely to re-use it in the future.

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

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