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Are second-hand scaffold towers safe?

20 July 2018 08:45:00 GMT

If you need a scaffold tower for a job but you are put off by the cost, there is the option of buying second hand. Of course, when it comes to something like high access equipment it is natural that your first priority is safety – this has led some people to worry that opting for a second-hand scaffold tower might not be as safe as buying one new.

Here we take a look at the safety issues surrounding second-hand towers and what you can do to ensure that you stay safe.

Second-hand is safe – as long as you use the right type of tower

There is no reason to assume that a second-hand scaffold tower that is sold by a quality provider will be unsafe for use. All towers sold by a reputable business will have been checked for quality to ensure they are still in good condition. However, it should be pointed out that if you are buying second hand as a cost saving exercise, it is still essential that you should buy a tower that is fit for purpose. Just because you’re getting a good deal on a second-hand tower, it doesn’t mean it is the right tower for the job.

Make sure that you buy a tower that is the correct height to allow you to carry out the work, and has been designed with the kind of work that you are doing in mind.

Buy from a quality supplier

Make sure that when you come to buy a second hand tower that you only consider purchasing from high quality and reputable suppliers. A good supplier will fully inspect any second hand towers and carry out repairs to ensure that they are fit for use. Buying from anywhere else can leave you in a position where you are not sure about the safety credentials of your tower.

Make sure that you are buying from a company that you can trust and has a good reputation. This is where it can be beneficial to do your research before you buy.

Sometimes a ladder can be just as effective

If you are buying access equipment for a specific job, it is worth considering whether a scaffold tower is the best choice. In general, scaffold towers can offer better safety features than a ladder, but at the same time, this level of safety is not a requirement for all jobs. Work that won’t take long and can be accomplished easily without heavy tools can be carried out on a ladder.

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

How to transport a ladder safely

6 July 2018 09:32:00 GMT

Getting a ladder to a job requires transportation, and doing so means that you need to take sensible steps to ensure both that the ladder arrives in good condition and that you avoid potentially knocking or damaging anything. There are two types of ladder transportation we will be looking at in this blog: carrying your ladder by hand, and drive a ladder on your car. Here are some tips on how to transport your ladder safely in both scenarios.

Carrying a ladder

Whether you are moving your ladder from one part of your home to another or walking it down the road to a neighbour’s house to carry out some DIY, the principles of carrying a ladder remain the same. Firstly, you need to be spatially aware at all times – a ladder is a large and heavy object, so if you are carrying it close to other people or objects you need to have a good understanding of what will happen if you move the ladder.

Walk slowly and try to make sure that you have at least two people carrying the ladder so that you can cover both ends. When you pick up the ladder, make sure that you bend your knees and lift with your legs, rather than putting the strain of lifting into your back. Additionally, you should remember that when you come to turn, you should use your feet rather than your waist. Check very carefully before changing direction.

Driving a ladder

If you are going to drive your ladder somewhere else then you will need to fix it to your car. Ladders are expensive, but so is your car, so make sure that it is tied down securely with a strong rope. Some people assume that you need a rack on your car to carry a ladder, and while this would be ideal, it is not essential. If you don’t have a rack then protect the roof with some sort of cushioning such as a thick blanket, or pillows.

And remember that you are responsible for your ladder and your safety on the road, to ensure that you thoroughly check over the ladder to make sure that it is securely tied in place. If you have any doubts about whether the ladder is secure then you should not drive with it on the roof.

There are also legal requirements for how far the ladder overhangs your car. For example, if the ladder overhangs the car by between 2 and 3.05 metres at the front or the back, you will need to have marker boards. If there is an overhang of 3.05 metres or more, you will need to give the police two days’ notice.

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

Four DIY jobs for the summer

29 June 2018 10:24:30 GMT

Summer is the perfect time to get some DIY tasks done, especially around the outside of your home. Firstly, the additional sunshine and natural light means the flaws on the exterior of your home will become more obvious. Additionally, if you haven’t managed to get out and do any DIY on the exterior of your home during the winter, these things can mount up – so it’s best to get them done before they turn into something serious.

And, of course, it’s easy to get motivated to do a little external work when it’s warm outside. So get outdoors, make the most of the sunshine and get these four DIY jobs done this summer.

1 - Repaint the outside of your home

If the outside of your home is painted, it may have been some time since you last did some work on it. It is only when you stop and take a look for a moment in the bright sunshine how obvious it is in need of updating. So whether you are carrying out a full paint job on the whole of the property or just touching up a few key areas that need some attention, the summer is the perfect time to do it.

Ensure that you are using the right access equipment. Remember that painting can be an arduous and time intensive task. You should carry out most of the work with an extending roller brush from the ground, and only use access equipment like a ladder when you are carrying out the finishing touches.

2 - Clear the gutters

The winter can take a toll on your gutters. And if you leave them in this condition until the autumn, when falling leaves begin to clog things up, you can end up with gutters that simply don’t work. So take the opportunity to get out in the summer and clear your gutters. This can sometimes take some motivation as the gutters rarely have any problems through the summer. But the last thing you want to do is find that in the pouring rain in the autumn that your gutters are clogged and overflowing.

3 - Thoroughly clean the windows

Even if you have your windows cleaned on a regular basis it may be the case that the job is done from the ground level with an extending hose and wiper. While this gets rid of the surface level of dirt and dust, it can also leave your windows watermarked. So take the opportunity in the good weather to clean your windows.

4 - Trim the hedges and trees in your garden

Summer is the time that you want your garden to look beautiful. Spring time has gone, but the fine weather means there will be more time for you to enjoy the flowers and greenery. So now is the time to trim back hedges and clean up the trees and shrubs.

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

Whether you are using a scaffold tower for some DIY around your home or in the workplace, you need to ensure that you are following the correct safety precautions. Here we look at some important ways that you can stay safe while you work on a scaffold tower.

Carry out a risk assessment

When you are going to carry out any kind of work at height it is vital that you should first carry out a thorough risk assessment. A scaffold tower is one of the safest ways to work at height, but any time you have to work off the ground you are putting yourself at risk, so it is essential to understand whether there are safer ways to carry out the work.

It may be the case that a task can actually be carried out from ground level. Additionally, even if working with the scaffold tower is the safest option, it is important to look at other factors, such as safety precautions for people below the tower.

Those using the tower must be competent

It is also the case that anyone who is going to build, dismantle, inspect or work on the tower must have the skills, experience and knowledge to do so. There may not be a formal qualification in order to do this, but it is vital that those expected to do these tasks have the necessary competence. It should also be noted that tower components should be regularly inspected by someone who is competent to do so. 

Use a tower that is suitable for the job

You should only ever use a tower that is suitable for the task that you want to carry out. This means that if you have a scaffold tower and it is not quite tall enough, you should never attempt to gain additional height in a way that is contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions.

What not to do on a scaffold tower

It is often just as important with a scaffold tower to establish exactly what you should not to do when you work. Here are some key things that you should never do when you are setting up or working on a scaffold tower:

  • Never set up the tower in a way that has not been recommended by the manufacturer
  • Never set up a tower without the appropriate instruction manual
  • Do not use a scaffold tower that does not have a guardrail or appropriate fall protection
  • Do not stand on a platform without protection while erecting or dismantling a tower
  • Never try to set up a tower on top of other objects to gain additional height
Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

Four myths about safe ladder use

15 June 2018 10:10:21 GMT

Ladders can be used very safely if you take the proper precautions. However, there are a number of myths about ladder use that can confuse things. Here are four myths and misconceptions about safe ladder use.

Myth 1: You must always have two feet and one hand on the ladder at all times

There is a popular misconception about the use of ladders that revolves around exactly how it is safe to stand on the ladder. Some believe that to use a ladder in a way that meets the principles of health and safety requirements it is necessary to maintain both feet as well as one hand on the ladder at all times while work is taking place.

This indicates that it would not be possible to carry out work on a ladder that required the use of two hands. However, this is not the case and working with two hands while standing on a ladder is possible. The myth has come about because of a misunderstanding in the regulations.

To safely use a ladder you must maintain three points of contact with it at all times. As your feet will always be on the ladder this means that you can use a third point of contact such as your chest or knee to ensure you are using the ladder safely.

Ladder to a loft

Myth 2: You need to be qualified to use a ladder

There are no formal qualifications that you need to hold in order to use a ladder in the workplace. However, the rules are not as simple as allowing everyone to use a ladder. The rules state that the person using the ladder must be ‘competent’ to do so. This means that you must have the skills, knowledge and experience to use a ladder correctly.

You can be trained to use a ladder and this training does not need to occur in a classroom. The important thing is that you should be able to demonstrate that you can follow safety precautions and use the ladder safely.

Myth 3: Ladders are not allowed to be used due to health and safety concerns

Rumours have circulated for a long time that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have banned the use of ladders in the workplace as they are unsafe. However, this is not the case. There are two things to consider regarding the safe use of ladders. Firstly: is there a safer way that you could potentially carry out the work? For example, window cleaning can be carried out from the ground level with an extending brush.

Secondly, you need to ensure that the ladder that you are using is suitable for the job. Using an incorrect ladder is dangerous and can put you at risk.

Myth 4: Only inspect equipment after long periods without use

It is important to note that ladders need to be inspected regularly to ensure that they are in good condition. If you don’t use a ladder very often you might be in the habit of only checking out your ladder when you first get it out. But if you are going to go through a period of extended use, you need to begin checking the condition on a regular basis. 

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

If you are carrying out any kind of work at height, either for work or DIY at home, you need to ensure that you are using the safest access equipment. Many people do not think beyond a ladder while others swear by the safety credentials offered by scaffold towers. Here we take a look at whether one is safer than the other and which you should be using.

When is a scaffold tower safer?

It is often the case that you might think setting up a scaffold tower is too much of a hassle and that it would be better simply to use a ladder. There’s no doubt that in many cases it is quicker, but it doesn’t mean that it is always safer. In fact, often it is much safer to use a scaffold tower for tasks – it all depends what is expected of you when you are working at height.

Typically, a scaffold tower is much safer to use if you are going to be carrying out work where you require two hands free. For example any work at height that needs tools will be safer when you work from a scaffold tower, as these will give you a base to stand on rather than having to have one hand on the ladder to keep yourself stable.

Tasks such as large scale painting of a property may also be safer if you work from a platform like a scaffold tower. This is because you won’t need to spend too long standing on a ladder which can become uncomfortable, and additionally you won’t have to constantly climb up and down the ladder.

When is a ladder safer?

If you only need high access for a short period of time, for example, to carry out a quick DIY task then it is often completely safe to use a ladder. Remember that many ladders are specifically designed to make it safe for you to carry out a job. A good example of this is a roof ladder, which extends across a roof, allowing you safely work on the surface. This is safer that using a scaffold tower to get access to the room and then trying to stretch out to carry out the tasks. 

Ultimately then, a ladder is safer when it is the right choice for the task at hand. This is often the case and you shouldn’t necessarily assume that just because a scaffold tower has better safety features that it is always the right tool to use.

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

Staying safe while spring cleaning

15 May 2018 10:43:24 GMT

With the warmer weather approaching, now might be the time you begin to think about getting some spring cleaning done. You might not think too much about safety before you get started cleaning the house, but it’s actually really worth putting some thought into how you are going to get everything done safely. Here are some tips for how to stay safe while spring cleaning.

Don’t try to rush it

It is most common to have safety issues when you are spring cleaning if you are trying to rush the job. Cleaning is not something that many of us enjoy doing and so there can be a tendency to try to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. But it is when you try to do things too quickly that mistakes can be made.

Set aside time for your cleaning session and remember that it can tiring to try to get all done at once, so take regular breaks or consider splitting up the work across a couple of days.

Be safe on step ladders and stools

To carry out a thorough spring clean, it’s going to be necessary for you to get up high at certain points. Whether you are cleaning windows or dusting on high shelves it will likely require you to use some form of access equipment such as a stool or step ladder. Firstly, you shouldn’t be tempted to do a botch job and use a chair or some other unsuitable method of reaching up high.

Choose a stable step ladder with a handrail to ensure that there is no risk of you falling. Additionally, wherever possible you should have someone around to help you and make sure that you are safe while you are using a ladder. And if you find that you are trying to reach something that is too high, don’t stretch or put yourself in a dangerous position – use a different ladder.

Take care on wet surfaces

When you are spring cleaning you likely be getting the floor wet as you mop them. But you need to remember that these will take time to dry, so when you are carrying out the rest of your cleaning you need to be careful on the wet surfaces. This goes back to the importance of taking your time and not trying to rush through tasks too quickly without really thinking about what you are doing.

Also remember to warn any other family members about wet surfaces while you are cleaning as they may not notice and end up slipping over.

Follow label safety instructions

Remember that using chemicals to clean your home can be perfectly safe as long as you follow the instructions on the bottle. Chemicals that need to be diluted should be done so in accordance with the recommend amount of water and you should ensure that the room is well ventilated so that you aren’t breathing in the fumes. 

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

You should only ever carry out work at height if you feel completely safe and in control of what you are doing. Sometimes in their haste to get a task done, people will disregard important safety precautions, but this can put you in a risky situation for no reason. Before you do any work at height you should ask yourself these safety questions.

Are you working at height unnecessarily?

Firstly, you need to establish whether you are working at height when actually there is no reason to do so. Clearly, given inherent risks of working off the ground, it is better to avoid it entirely if at all possible, and you may be surprised to find that there are ways to carry out the work without having to reach for a ladder or scaffold tower.

For example if you are getting work done around the house and need to clean the windows you might think nothing of climbing a ladder to reach the top floor when it would be safer to use an extending window cleaning brush allowing you to work from the ground. Alternatively you may find that you are able to carry out tasks from a high level without using access equipment, for example accessing the area through a window on a higher floor.

Are you using the right equipment?

Working at height

If you have decided that you need to work at height to get the job done, then it is essential that you ensure you are making use of the right equipment. Having a ladder to hand is certainly convenient, but if it is not suitable for the job you want to carry out, you can actually be putting yourself at risk.

Whether you are attempting to use a ladder that isn’t tall enough for the task or if there is a specific piece of equipment that would allow you to carry out the task more safely, do think about the equipment you are using before you get started on a task. It may even be the case that it would be sensible to use a scaffold tower.

Are you working alone?

Working at height is naturally dangerous but it can be even more so if you work alone. If you are attempting to carry out tasks by yourself you should first make sure that someone knows where you are and what you are doing so that they can come and check you are still alright every so often. Falling from a height and injuring yourself can be even riskier if no-one is around to summon aid if you need it.

Are you wearing the right gear for the job? 

You should always make sure that you are wearing the right clothing and safety gear for the task. Sensible footwear is a must for any work at height but you may also need safety glasses and ear defenders depending on the type of work you are carrying out.

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

Four tasks for a step ladder

9 April 2018 09:55:17 GMT

Step LadderStep ladders are one of the most versatile forms of ladder, with uses everywhere from small DIY tasks at home to commercial building sites. No home should be without a step ladder as they can make it easier to carry out a large range of tasks that would otherwise be more difficult or even dangerous to attempt. Here are four tasks that you will need a step ladder for.

1 - Changing a light bulb

How often when you change a light bulb do you simply stand on the nearest piece of furniture to hand? Changing a bulb is one of the most basic DIY tasks, but that doesn’t mean that you can disregard safety precautions. Standing on a chair might be convenient, but it can put you at risk of falling and injuring yourself.

It’s a much better idea to take the time to get out your step ladder so that it gives you the correct level of support and stability while you work off the ground. So the next time your bulb needs changing go and get your step ladder so you can make sure you are completely safe.

2 - Interior painting

A step-ladder generally gives you enough clearance off the floor to paint the inside of your home easily. Unless you have very high ceilings it should be possible to do all of the walls and the ceilings using a step ladder. With a platform step ladder you even have a convenient place to hold all of the brushes, paint and other materials you need

3 - Clearing gutters

A step ladder gives you good vertical height on a solid base, meaning that it can be easily used to carry out a range of stationary tasks such as gutter clearing on one storey properties such as bungalows. Often there is no need to use a full-sized ladder to get a task done and you can use a step ladder that you have close to hand.

4 - Gardening

There are multiple forms of gardening that you can do much more easily with a step ladder. For example, if you need to prune bushes or trees it can be useful to get off the ground on a secure platform. This is essential if you are going to be using electric tools which are naturally riskier. A step ladder can be hugely valuable in the garden, so don’t discount it if you are getting ready for spring.

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

Ladders and scaffold towers are two important pieces of access equipment that can be used both in domestic and professional circumstances for a huge variety of different jobs. Many people, however, have never considered using a scaffold tower and will opt for a ladder no matter what kind of task they are carrying out.

This can be a mistake as in many cases it is safer to use a scaffold tower for a job than it is to try to do it from a ladder. At Precipitous we supply both ladders and scaffold towers so we can provide you with unbiased advice as to when it is best to one or the other. Here we look at when you should consider using a tower for access to a job.

Prioritise safety

Clearly the most important thing when you are carrying out work at height is that you need to stay safe. This means that it is the right time to use a scaffold tower if doing so is a safer option that using a ladder. For example it might be the case that you are carrying out a task that requires two hands and complex work, or perhaps you need a range of tools with you to get it done. Working from a ladder in either of these scenarios can be dangerous and it could be better to work from a tower.

Of course, it is not always the case that a tower is required for safety. In many cases it is fine to use ladder. Typically ladders are cheaper, faster to set up and more easily stored, so there are certainly advantages in using a ladder. But try to make sure that you are using them for the right reasons – that they are the best tool for the job.

Ladders are not necessarily suitable for heavier tasks or longer term work, where it can be very uncomfortable to stand on a ladder for significant periods of time.

When should you use a scaffold tower?

It is important to understand that you should think through each job you are going to carry out and make a decision as to whether it would be safer to use a scaffold tower. If it is easier for you to use a scaffold tower they are more affordable and accessible than ever before – it is even possible to hire out towers if you are only going to use them for a short project.

Of course, it is also the case that one some occasions there might be a safer way to complete the work without having to use access equipment at all. For example, if you are cleaning windows on a high floor you may be able to do it from inside the building and reaching out.

Please feel free to get in touch with the team at Precipitous if you would like more information on scaffold towers and what they can do for you.

Posted in Buyers Guides By Tom B

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