Bailey Ladders has been a trusted Australian brand for more than 60 years when it comes to safely working at heights. Bailey Ladders marketing and product manager John Chinn speaks with Manufacturers’ Monthly about this heritage of safety.
Ensuring workers return home safely each day is the most important aspect of all modern-day workplaces. Sadly, however each year we still see cases of workers dying or being seriously injured from workplace accidents.
The Bailey Ladders brand has been providing safe access solutions for more than 60 years in Australia and New Zealand. Safe access when working at heights is the key focus for Bailey Ladders and their parent global company Werner Co.
“One of the biggest causes of workplace injuries and deaths each year in Australia are falls from heights. It doesn’t necessarily need to be from that high either,” Bailey Ladders marketing and product manager, John Chinn said.
“Our manufacturing process is quite unique in the Australian market in terms of how we make the ladders. Our Pro range of ladders – which is our premium range meant for the tradesmen – uses a technique called punch lock, where we don’t use any rivets.
“The great advantage of this is rivets can tend to work loose over time under frequent use. We don’t have that issue, which gives them more durability and makes them safe for longer.”
Data from Safe Work Australia studies, published in the Work-related injury fatalities – Key WHS statistics Australia 2019 report, found that falls, trips and slips together account for the second highest cause of workplace injuries. In 2018, falls from heights accounted for 13 per cent of all fatalities at work, the third highest cause of death.
Chinn said it is important that durability forms part of the safety factor.
“A ladder that wears out quickly can become unsafe quickly, but using the punch lock construction, the ladder lasts longer and is safer for a longer period of time, and actually decreases total life cost of the product,” he said.
“Here at Bailey ladders we aim to provide the safest possible solutions for workers needing to work or perform duties off the ground. The advice is always to do a work risk assessment to first try to eliminate the need to work at height, however it is often not possible or practical and the only solution is to use a portable ladder or work platform.”
The company supplies ladders and access solutions for a wide array of trades and industries through hardware or industrial retailers and the brand can be seen on worksites and on top of utes across Australia.
“When you mention ladders to people, they often think of construction sites and builders renovating houses, but this is just a fraction of the ladders used around the country. Just about every workplace in Australia will have some quantity of ladders on site, be it in an office or in a processing plant, and all workplaces have a duty of care to ensure the safety of those using them,” Chinn said.
As part of after-sales service, Werner Co provides retail customers and their users with training courses around safety and skills and ladder selection. The courses are tailored on a case by case basis to suit different access needs of the customer.
“If the customer is more interested in maintaining the ladders and inspecting them to keep them in a safe condition, then we’ll tailor a course around that,” Chinn said. “If the customer is just interested in making sure that staff are trained to use the ladder safely, we tailor a course around that aspect.”
Reducing the risks
When conducting a risk assessment for tasks to be carried out at heights, Chinn advises applying the hierarchy of control for working at heights, which gives levels of control starting at high levels and reducing control the further down the hierarchy you go.
The five levels of control most used when dealing with working at heights are:
- Level 1: Eliminate the risk, e.g. work from the ground;
- Level 2: Fall prevention. e.g. physical barriers, EWP’s, etc;
- Level 3: Work positioning. e.g. travel restraint systems;
- Level 4: Fall Arrest Devices, e.g. inertia reels, catch nets, etc, and
- Level 5: Admin controls and ladders. e.g. signage, permits, industrial ladders, etc.
“Staff working at heights should be trained and the correct equipment should be provided to safely achieve the task. At Bailey Ladders, we design and build products that strictly meet the requirements of the Australian portable ladder standard AS 1892,” Chinn said.
The company has continued putting innovation into the design and manufacture of its products over many years, and recently introduced a modular system for creating work platforms around equipment and machinery.
Bailey Ladders created the Modular Access System (MAS) around the existing Access Platform Ladder, which enables users to take the standard Access Platform Ladder and add extension modules to create a mobile platform into numerous configurations.
“You can use the modules to create a long straight platform or use corner ‘Plus’ platforms to wrap around corners and machinery,” Chinn said. “Most of these configurations are straightforward, however when complex configurations are required, we assist the customers in the design and configuration process and offer advice on safe work methods.”
The advantage of the MAS is that it allows for flexibility, the modules are all flat packed and simply bolt together like flat packed furniture. Prior to the system, manufacturers would need to have something custom designed and fabricated for the specific application. This system means the user can simply unbolt and reconfigure for a new application. When overhauling machinery and equipment the system can be quickly dismantled and flat packed away until the next scheduled shutdown.
“The system is an excellent choice for applications that need to be temporary or portable. There is a vast array of applications in numerous industries and we foresee users continuing to expand their systems as they find new applications in their particular industrial environment,” Chinn said.