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What is the maximum height I can use my ladder?

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The HSE Act does not specify heights, but the selection of the most appropriate access equipment for a particular task is a requirement of the law.

You also have a duty, where working at height cannot be avoided, to take all practicable steps to prevent any harm that would result from a fall. Work platforms, scaffolding and towers all offer protection from a fall occurring. Ladders and step ladders do not offer fall protection, so should be the last form of work access equipment to be considered.

If you have selected ladder use, your hazard assessment must justify why it is not possible to use safer equipment.

If your hazard assessment determines that a ladder is the right piece of equipment to be used, then the right ladder should be selected and used in the correct manner.

Ladders should be used for low-risk and short-duration tasks, and three points of contact should always be maintained to prevent a person slipping and falling.

The risk of falling onto something below a ladder (e.g. spiked railings or glass covering) is equally relevant as the height of the potential drop in terms of risk.

The Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1892.1. Portable Ladders sets the following limits for ladder heights:

for temporary non-fixed ladders the maximum length for:

  • a single ladder is nine metres
  • an extension ladder is 15 metres
  • a step ladder 6.1 metres.

where a ladder rises nine metres or more above its base, landing areas or rest platforms should be provided at suitable intervals.

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