Published: 14 June 2016
Last updated: 3 August 2018
The purpose of this safety alert is to highlight the risks associated with attaching ladder platform brackets onto ladders.
A worker was seriously injured when he fell approximately 4.5 metres from a plank supported by a ladder platform bracket on an aluminium extension ladder.
The worker lost his balance and fell off the plank supported by the ladder platform bracket.
Photograph 1 shows a ladder platform bracket attached to the front of a ladder in a similar setup to that involved in the incident. Photograph 2 shows a ladder platform bracket attached to the rear of a ladder.
Photograph 1: Ladder platform bracket fitted to front of ladder
Photograph 2: Ladder platform bracket fitted to back of ladder
The use of ladder platform brackets increases the risk of:
- the worker falling off the ladder - the worker is required to climb up and over the scaffolding plank when the bracket is on the front of the ladder
- the ladder falling backwards with the bracket attached to the front of the ladder – it is more likely for this to occur because the centre of gravity is further back compared to when the worker stands directly on the ladder rungs
- the worker falling off the plank – to minimise the risk of falling off a ladder a worker should have three points of contact at any one time. A worker walking on a single plank supported by a ladder platform bracket may only have one point of contact
- excessive point loading applied to ladder rungs by the bracket – the point load is more concentrated than the load applied by a worker's foot and the rungs are more likely to be damaged, which can lead to premature rung failure
- the bracket becoming dislodged – due to the locking mechanism not being engaged and/or poor design of the mechanism.
Ladder manufacturers generally do not supply or approve the use of ladder platform brackets.
Ladder platform brackets must not be used for construction work in Queensland. Under section 306M(7) of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 a person conducting a business or undertaking performing construction work must not use, or allow another person to use, a ladder to support a platform.
While this prohibition applies to construction work, the use of ladder platform brackets at any workplace in Queensland is strongly discouraged.
Extension or single ladders should generally only be used as a means of access to or egress from a work area. They should only be used for light work of short duration that can be carried out safely on the ladder.
If ladders are used they must be selected to suit the task to be undertaken. In doing this, you should consider the duration of the task, the physical surroundings of where the task is to be undertaken and the prevailing weather conditions.
Ladders should have a load rating of at least 120 kilograms and be manufactured for industrial use.
Any ladder used at a workplace must be set up on a solid and stable surface, and set up so as to prevent the ladder from slipping. Single and extension ladders can be prevented from slipping by:
- placing ladders at a slope of 4:1, and setting up stepladders in the fully opened position
- securing ladders at the top or bottom, or if necessary, at both ends.
Further information can be obtained from the following: