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SafeWork NSW issues ladder safety warning due to recent incidents

28 July, 2016

SafeWork NSW has issued a reminder to NSW businesses to work safely with ladders after one worker was killed and four were seriously injured in falls over the past two months.

A 58 year old electrical contractor suffered fatal head injuries when he fell three metres from a ladder at a Smithfield business in June. Other incidents involved a 38 year old form worker suffering a fractured skull when he fell two metres from a ladder at a Surry Hills construction site earlier this month and a 39 year old roofer suffered a broken pelvis and internal injuries when he fell from a ladder at a Dural property in May.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said most incidents occurred due to incorrect or inappropriate use and that, where possible, other safer alternatives should be used.

"Ladders are used in workplaces throughout NSW but they need to be used safely to prevent the risk of serious injury," Dunphy said.

"This is highlighted by the fact that between July 2011 and 31 May 2016, 3,168 workers were injured in falls from ladders, including two fatalities at a total cost of $54.5 million to the NSW workers compensation system.

"Ladders should only be used for simple access or short periods and businesses must have safety measures in place.

"SafeWork NSW recommends businesses only use ladders on flat, stable surfaces and workers should only take small items up or down them.

"They should also maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times, that is, two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on the ladder and never lean or reach away from the ladder while using it.

"A-frame ladders should always be set up in the fully open position.  And if you're using an extension ladder, secure it at the top or the bottom, or even at both ends to stop it slipping.

"Also consider whether other safer alternatives are more appropriate, such as scaffolding and elevated work platforms such as scissor lifts or cherry pickers.

"Tragically, a worker will not be coming home to his family tonight as a result of falling from a ladder at work but if more NSW businesses adopt these safety measures, fewer families will have to experience the terrible consequences of a workplace incident."

To help businesses work safely with ladders, SafeWork NSW has produced a safety video that can be viewed on a computer, smart phone or tablet device. It contains provides practical tips that can be easily implemented in the workplace

"Don't wait until there's a death or injury from a fall from a ladder at your workplace. View the video today and learn how you can make your workers safe," Dunphy said.

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