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Transcript: Ladder Exchange

Welcome to the HSE Podcast. 

In this episode we find out what the HSE is doing to tackle slips, trips and falls in the workplace.
If you've got a ladder which is broken or damaged or bent rather than using it and putting yourself at risk or your workers at risk you can actually take it in to one of our sort of partner companies and you can exchange it and what these companies have agreed to do is actually to give a discount against the value of the new ladder.  In some areas they're giving up as much as 50% off.

And HSE's Infoline's Rachel Jones tells us about the new version of the health and safety law poster but first here's a round-up of the latest health and safety news.

From September many of the HSE's paid for publications are going to be available free on line for the first time.  You'll be able to view or print 250 guides through the HSE's website.  The HSE is making the move to encourage employers to better understand their legal duties regarding health and safety.  Anyone wanting to buy professional printed and bound copies will still have the option through HSE books.  There is more evidence this month that the offshore industry is becoming safer.  New figures from the HSE show that there were no fatalities on an oil platform for the second year in a row and the number of major accidents was also down.  There was a reduction too in the number of potentially explosive unplanned releases of hydrocarbons.  The figures are the best since the HSE took responsibility for regulating the offshore industry following the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988 but news of the improvements on the rigs comes four months after one of the worst air accidents involving offshore workers.  Sixteen people were killed in April after a Super Puma transport helicopter crashed in the North Sea.  The HSE has a new Regional Director for the Midlands.  Rosi Edwards has taken over the top job after 7 years as Head of Construction Operations for the Midlands, Wales and the South West.  Two new Heads of Operations will join Rosi's team.  Samantha Peace in the East Midlands and Peter Galsworthy in the West Midlands.  At Board level Liz Snape Director of Policy and Political Affairs at Unison has been reappointed for a further 3 years.  Liz first joined the then Health and Safety Commission in 2003.

And finally the HSE has started tweeting.  If you are signed up to Twitter you can follow announcements about workplace safety at H_S_E.  New guidance campaigns and other announcements are all being made through the site. 

You're listening to the HSE podcast.

For links to these HSE websites and other issues covered in this episode view the transcript at  You can stay up-to-date with the latest news and updates from the HSE by visiting the news pages on our website at  If you'd rather get the latest news by email then sign up for free regular eBulletins on a range of different health and safety subjects.  Sign up at 

Each month somebody dies and more than a hundred others suffer serious injuries falling off ladders.  Instead of banning ladders as some believe the HSE is helping businesses exchange broken or damaged ones. 

My name's Ali Wellington.  I'm the Head of the Slips, Trips and Falls team at HSE.

I'm Matt Lee, I'm an Inspector in the HSE in Preston, General Manufacturing.

You're involved in this campaign that the HSE is running at the moment about ladders and getting, is it getting free ladders, new ladders?

It's not getting free ladders but what we're saying is if you've got a ladder which is broken or damaged or bent rather than using it and putting yourself at risk or your workers at risk you can actually take it in to one of our sort of partner companies and you can exchange it and what these companies have agreed to do is actually to give a discount against the value of the new ladder.  In some areas they're giving as much as 50% off so we're just encouraging people to rather than keeping broken ladders or using them to take them in to one of the participating outlets and then swap them for a new one.

Have you done this before?

We've run it for 2 years now and to date we've had over five and half thousand ladders have been exchanged so we're really hoping to build on that.  We've got more participating outlets, more companies on board with us this year.  Because of the success we've had so far we're actually going to run it as an annual initiative now so it'll run every year.

Matt can I ask you, we've all got a kind of image in our mind haven't we of people falling off ladders you know sort of comedy moments Norman Wisdom that kind of thing.


But I mean how much of a problem are ladders at work?  How much of a hazard are they really.
Obviously they can be a hazard.  We do find a lot of them lying around and for no particular reason sometimes.  We ask about them, what do you use your ladders for and they just say oh they've been there for ages.  We don't, we don't use them so we're trying to encourage people to, to think a bit more about the jobs they use and not just grab a ladder when they think they need one.

You're not just saying that ladders are supposed to be safe which is what you were saying Ali.  What you're saying Matt is actually try not to use them, try and think about the job that you're doing.  Well what would you use instead of a ladder, can you give me an example?

Yeah there's a number of things.  Depending on the length/duration of the job if you're going to do something, do something on a regular basis that involved work at height then investing in mobile tower scaffold that you can move around would be a good example.  Larger companies go for things like MEWPs and cherry pickers and scissor lifts so that they can control the work at height more safely.

So if, you know if I was an employer and I wanted to take advantage of this project that you're running what, what would I do?

Well you can take your ladder or ladders along to any one of the participating outlets and basically you can exchange them for new ones and there's all of these different discounts which vary by partner company.  If you visit the HSE website we've actually got a ladder exchange webpage on there which details all of the companies involved and the different sorts of discounts that they're offering as well.  So you literally take your ladder along, the companies are recycling the dodgy ladders as well so you won't get them back.  They're taken away and recycled and then you'll walk away with a new ladder as well which means you'll be able to use it to work at height safely.

Visit the transcript for this podcast episode at for more information about ladders exchange and the risks from falls from height of work.

The HSE – protecting people's health and safety at work.

Now in our regular feature we put HSE infoline's Rachel Jones to the test by asking her to answer one of your popular health and safety questions.

Good afternoon, HSE's Infoline, Andrew speaking, how can I help?

Hello my name's Rachel Jones, I'm here to answer all of your health and safety questions.

So just behind us here is one of these HSE health and safety law posters that I always remember seeing when I had Saturday jobs.  Has this changed?

There is a new law poster that the HSE's produced basically so it's more eye catching and it still provides basic essential information for employees.  The new law poster update the current poster.  It needs to be replaced by 5 April 2014 so there is a transition period.  There's been a few scams going around at the moment as well where companies are trying to sell the new law poster but basically saying it's got to be done now.

Oh right.

So we've had a lot of calls on this but as I said it's important that people know that there is that transition period for them to actually get that so they can phase it in.

So what's changed?

The new poster has perhaps some pictures.  It's a bit more cutting edge, up-to-date.  It's got some more points on there and numbers for employees.  It gives them a bit more information.  It's still got the boxes on there so they've got basic information about who to contact if they need to and the employer can still put that information on but it's not as old fashioned if you'd like it's.
Yeah.  Does look much more modern but funnily enough I've only really just clocked it because I was so busy looking at the old one just because I don't know there's something nostalgic about it.
Yeah.  I mean you do obviously you walk around shops to buy a drink and they're everywhere because they need to be in a prominent place.

It looks readable.

The new one it, it is easier reading and it's more to the point to be honest so it is a very good job there.

You've, we've got these new posters then.  Are we going to see these everywhere, do do employers have to put them up?

Well if employers got peripatetic workers or perhaps workers that just would prefer a pocket card style information document they can actually use the, the leaflet which has been obviously revamped in line with the new poster so the employer hasn't got to display this.  They can provide them with the pocket card.  Alternatively as long as the employer can actually provide it electronically that's another version that they can prove that all employees can access it.

Uhh hmm.

Employers can do it that way as well now which is a new aspect to the health and safety information for employees.

You can call Infoline 8 am to 6 pm weekdays on 0845 345 0055.

If you have anything to say on what's been covered in this podcast just let us know at  Don't forget if you want to find out more about anything covered in this or any HSE podcast you can access a transcript of each episode at  HSE's on-line team is keen to improve so if you've found something useful or something you dislike or think there's something missing, get in touch.  Click on the feedback link at the bottom of any HSE website page.

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Updated 2016-03-03