Christmas is the time of year when, if we’re lucky, we celebrate the season with our families and friends.

Unfortunately, it’s also a time when ladder accidents and injuries occur due to the misuse of stepladders. This is as true at home as it is of the workplace. It’s a busy time of the year and we are often under pressure or rushing to get things done.

In 2016 the Ladder Association, using the HSE as their source, reported that the period of 2015/2016 saw falls from height as the single cause of fatalities on site and in the workplace. In addition, such accidents accounted for: ‘5,956 non-fatal injuries over the 12-month period to 31 March 2016’. This 2002 BBC article reported a 62% increase in accidents involving domestic step ladder use on the previous decade.

It’s clear then that ladders and stepladders can be dangerous if used without due care and attention. Whether in the workplace or decking the halls with boughs of holly at home.

So, what should you be checking before you make that ascent with the drawing pins in your pocket and one end of a paper chain over your shoulder?

The Health and Safety Executive has produced a brief guide to the safe use of ladders and stepladders.  In the main the document aims itself at the workplace and is enough for compliance with the Work at Height (WAH) regulations 2005.  But sensible use of stepladders and ladders is important for everyone so let’s take a look at some of the advice.


Check your ladder BEFORE you use it.

This check matters as much before you put the baubles on the highest branches of the tree as it does in the workplace.  Things to look out for include:

  • Bent or damaged stiles might cause the ladder to buckle or collapse.
  • Missing, worn or damaged feet are not good either because the ladder could slip.
  • Bent, worn, missing or loose rungs on your ladder are big no-no. Don’t use it.
  • Locking mechanisms: be sure they’re not bent or worn and make sure they’re engaged.


Before you use a stepladder for anything:

  • Check that all four of its feet are touching the floor and that the steps are level.
  • Carry light materials and tools only.
  • Do NOT overreach yourself
  • Only stand and work on the top three steps when there’s a suitable handhold.


Returning to the festive season and the dangers lurking within, it’s wise not to climb a stepladder if you’ve had a drink or two. When it comes to health and safety, alcohol is a large contributory factor because it impairs your perception of risk.

Beware the carpet slipper

And, when away from the workplace, if it’s your habit to do chores requiring stepladder use while wearing your slippers you might want to think again. According to this webpage from The Free Library.Com you need to beware of the slipper as they can damage your health.

Number two in the list of top ten slipper accidents is tripping when wearing bulky oversized slippers. And slippers in general are number one on the list of clothing most prone to causing accidents!

So perhaps the Christmas pudding slippers are not such a good idea after all?

Business H&S Consultation

Our passion at ABR safety is that you are safe at work and at home. So, if you’ve got health and safety needs in your business that you need help with then get in touch. Call me on x07977 178193 or use the contact form on our website.

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Wishing you a merry – and safe Christmas!





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