Working at height regulations
Around 1/3 of falls from height at work are from a ladder. A high percentage of falls from height lead to serious injury or death.
Under the Work at Height Regulations 2005, employers must ensure that all work at height is avoided wherever possible. If an employee must use a ladder, the work must be correctly planned for, supervised and carried out by trained and competent personnel.
Ladders may be used for work at height when a risk assessment has shown that the risk is low and the use is only for a short time, or where there are existing workplace features that cannot be altered.
Ladders may only be used where it is safe to do so - where the ladder will be level and stable may be secured if practically possible.
'Competent people' are those who have had instruction and understand how to use the equipment safely. Those who are still to be trained may work under the supervision of another competent colleague.
The employee is responsible for carrying out pre-use checks to make sure the ladder is safe to use. If any defects are spotted the ladder should not be used and the defects notified to the employer.
Employers need to ensure that ladders or stepladders are in a safe condition and suitable for the task.
As well as a daily pre-use check, employers should carry out regular detailed visual inspections and keep up-to-date records.
What are the most common ladder accidents?
Overreaching is the most common cause of a ladder accident. Overreaching accidents happen when a person attempts to lean too far left, or right or too high. It only takes a small adjustment to the ladder's centre of gravity to put the person at risk of a fall.
Ladder training should make it clear that ladder users should only work facing forwards. Users should climb down the ladder to move it, rather than leaning out to the side.
Ladder and stepladder accidents can also happen as a result of:
- defective or inadequate equipment - e.g. faulty ladder mechanisms, lack of anti-slip feet and stabilising devices
- using the wrong type of ladder - e.g. a stepladder when a ladder is required
- improper use - e.g. standing on one of the top three rungs, using the wrong angle of lean
- using the ladder in adverse weather conditions - e.g. high winds, rain or snow
- use on an uneven or sloping surface
- a lack of training
- not wearing suitable PPE - e.g. a helmet
- working near other hazards - e.g. electricity cables
At-risk professions include window cleaners, farmworkers, garden landscapers, warehouse workers, emergency services, builders and those working in the construction trade.
The risk of objects being dropped from a ladder also poses a risk to passers-by.
What if I was asked or told to use a ladder?
Without thinking, a manager could ask you to use a ladder to do something basic, like change a lightbulb or fetch something from the stockroom. Even if ladders are relatively commonplace items in the home, ladder use at work still requires suitable training and supervision. If you are hurt, or someone else is hurt, as a result of your manager's negligent request, the company is at fault.
For example, you are likely to have a claim if:
- The company failed to carry out regular safety checks
- Ladder use was not monitored
- Ladder training was not provided or was not adequate
- PPE (e.g. a helmet) was not provided or was not used properly
What to do if you have been injured in a ladder accident at work
Visit your GP or A&E
You should arrange to see your GP or medical professional as soon as you can after the accident. If the injury is more serious, you should seek urgent medical attention.
Ladder accidents can often result in concussion and delayed concussion, so you should urgently get medical attention even if there is only a small risk you have a head injury.
Your medical appointment will also be a helpful record of events if you decide to pursue a compensation claim.
Keep a record of your ladder accident and injuries
A record of your accident will help you to:
- Claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and benefits
- Make an injury compensation claim
Even if you don’t plan to claim anything right now, it is a very good idea to make a record while you still clearly remember what happened.
Reporting the accident
Given the risk, all ladder accidents at work should be reported. Even if your injuries are relatively minor, the fact that the ladder accident could have been more serious means your employer must still report the accident to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under RIDDOR rules.
You should tell the person responsible for the site about the ladder accident as soon as possible.
If you decide to claim compensation, reporting your accident can also make the claims process easier and faster.
Do I have a ladder accident claim?
You may be able to make a claim if your injury or illness happened because of the company's negligent actions, or their negligent failure to act.
You must start a claim within three years of the date of the accident.
Depending on your individual circumstances, there are a few other things that can affect your eligibility to claim.
Financial support after a ladder accident
If you have been injured at work, you may be entitled to claim financial support. Your options include:
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Work accident compensation
In some cases, you may also be entitled to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). ESA is available to workers who have made National Insurance contributions in the last two years and is also available if you are self-employed.
What impact will my job status have on a ladder accident claim?
Contractors, agency workers and employees on zero-hours contracts are all still entitled to claim compensation. How compensation is calculated, and who the ladder accident claim is made against, however, may vary.
Find out more:
How much compensation can I claim?
Ladder accident compensation awards are calculated based on two factors:
- The injuries or illness you have suffered (called general damages)
- The financial costs you have incurred (called special damages)
Injury compensation is worked out with reference to an official table of guideline amounts published by the Judicial College. During the claims process, your solicitor will arrange for an assessment of your injuries to determine which table values are applicable.
Our calculator uses the official guidelines to give you an idea of the compensation you could receive.
Making a No Win, No Fee ladder injury claim
A No Win, No Fee claim is made with the help of a solicitor.
When you start a No Win, No Fee claim, your solicitor will explain how the claims process works, and what they will be paid if they win your claim.
If your No Win, No Fee claim is not successful, you will have no legal fees to pay. Under a No Win, No Fee agreement, a solicitor will receive a success fee of up to 25% of a claimant's compensation.
If your claim is successful, your solicitor will receive a success fee.
Our work injury advisors will:
- Offer free, impartial advice
- Explain how No Win, No Fee works
- Recommend the right solicitor