New ladder scheme hopes to reduce window cleaning injuries

By Natasha Carter, John Dickens, Ross Wittenham and Monica Eden

Manchester window cleaners are celebrating the return of a nationwide initiative that allows them to trade in washed-up ladders for brand new ones.

The Ladder Exchange scheme runs until November 30 and offers a 50% exchange discount to eliminate ladder related accidents.

The government scheme spearheaded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has removed almost 7000 dodgy ladders from use since its launch in 2007.

Peter Brown, Head of Work Environment, Radiation and Gas Division, said: “Our advice is anyone working at height should use the right ladder for the job and use it safely.

“Ladder Exchange provides an ideal opportunity for businesses to assess the risks involved in using ladders and to adopt sensible health and safety measures.”

The HSE works with Local Authorities, ladder manufactures and retailers to address equipment safety issues with employers and ladder users.

Businesses will again have the opportunity to get their ladders checked and trade them in for new ones at various Manchester supply outlets.

The Stockport-based Federation for Window Cleaners (FWC), who offer their members health and safety training, are promoting the Ladder Exchange scheme.

 FWC Group Secretary Beryl Murray said: “We’ve heard from our members that the scheme has been really helpful.

“We have members who have waited all year to trade in their ladders and we are pleased that our members are taking health and safety precautions.”

A total of 35 workers died and over 4500 employees suffered major injury as a result of a fall from height in the workplace in 2008/9.

Kevin Routledge of Chorlton Window Cleaning, applauded the financial incentives to encourage cash-strapped businessman to replace unsafe equipment.

“Literally everyone I know has fallen off a ladder, including myself,” he said.

“I think the scheme is great.  Some people won’t replace ladders because of costs so I think an exchange would encourage people to get rid of old ladders.

“Loose rungs and cracks are signs when ladders need replacing. Some people keep using damaged ladders which can be very dangerous.”

Ladder Association Chairman, Don Aers, hopes that the initiative will reduce the numbers or work-related deaths.

“By engaging with this important HSE initiative we have an additional opportunity to advocate our central message – if it’s right to use a ladder, use the right ladder and get trained to use it safely.”

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