On hearing that the a town could lose its Christmas decorations due to health and safety concerns Philip Davies, head of public protection at Carmarthenshire County Council, Wales,UK consulted with The Ladder Association to find a solution.
Llandovery Council (within the Carmarthenshire area) was concerned about using ladders to put Christmas trees on the ledges over shop fronts and above the market hall as part of the town's festive celebrations. Local officials were concerned that health and safety regulations meant that ladders could no longer be used and that alternative forms of access were too expensive.
Determined that the display would go ahead Mr Davies, in consultation with the Ladder Association, devised a simple solution for the Llandovery Christmas tree committee involving the use of an ‘I' bolt and a quick-release safety clip attached to the ladder.
Mr Davies said, "It is important to interpret the Work at Height Regulations correctly and separate fact from fiction. Ladders are not banned and, subject to proper risk assessment, can continue to be used for work of low risk and short duration.
"We did the risk assessment and came up with this straightforward, cost-effective solution."
David Walker of the Ladder Association agrees. "We have recently been involved in a number of similar cases nationwide where misinterpretation at local level has resulted in unnecessary restrictions on ladder use and a resultant increase in global risk and, of course, cost.
"The replacement of one of the existing Christmas tree bracket bolts with a suitably rated ‘l' bolt, together with an adjustable lashing strap and clip attached to the ladder, will allow Llandovery Council to install the trees at minimum risk."
To assist local authorities and town councils in the UK, the Ladder Association has published a free LadderBook containing '10 things you need to know about ladders'. It can be obtained free by visiting www.ladderassociation.org.uk
The Ladder Association is also willing to work with organisations to develop practical, affordable solutions involving the continued use of ladders and stepladders.