Don’t be an idiot when up a ladder

AT this time of year, the number of people climbing up ladders on to the roofs of houses, just like Santa Claus, increases dramatically.

AT this time of year, the number of people climbing up ladders on to the roofs of houses, just like Santa Claus, increases dramatically. The majority of those using ladders are doing so to put up their outdoor decorations.

Over the festive period, there are more ladder-related accidents than any other time in the year. For some unknown reason, some of us seem to lose our sense of danger and forget how hazardous climbing up ladders on to roofs can be. In the winter months in particular, the dangers increase; slipping on patches of ice that have formed in places where they are not easy to spot

All year round, health and safety should be paramount, especially when working with ladders or heights, whether you are working on behalf of an organisation or just cleaning your upstairs windows at home.

Although the number of ladder accidents has fallen in the past ten years, there are still a number of accidents that could be easily avoided.

The Health and Safety Executive recommends that fall protection systems such as guardrails and barricades should be used when climbing on to any roof, no matter what the scenario. They also recommend the following top tips to stay safe when using ladders:

Use slip resistant footwear.

Keep at least one hand on the ladder at all times.

Tie down the ladder at the support point and use ladder feet or another method to ensure the bottom of the ladder is non-slippery.

To try to help people understand the risks associated with ladders, a safety trade body launched a hunt for ‘the biggest idiot on a ladder’. The organisation asked members of the public to send in shots of people who were using ladders in the most inappropriate, dangerous ways. All of the photos were then uploaded online, where fans of the company were asked to vote for the most idiotic version.

Often, people know the danger they are putting themselves under but never think anything drastic will happen to them. Sometimes the only way to show people how dangerous a situation can be is by incorporating humour and making them look ‘from the outside in’. To see some of the images, visit the Ladder Association’s page on Facebook.

Since most ladder-related accidents happen putting up decorations, maybe the idea of Santa Claus having a magic key to enter homes rather than down the chimney is a safer option to promote!

From all of us at Constructing Excellence North East, we wish you all a happy and safe Christmas. For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 374 0233 or email

Catriona Lingwood, chief executive of Constructing Excellence North East


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