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.