Fixed ladders that are cut to size with irregular spaces between the bottom rung and the ground are workplace hazards that could lead to serious musculoskeletal injuries, warns WorkSafe.
The rungs or treads of a fixed ladder need to be evenly spaced to avoid trips and slips and potential muscular injuries. For the same reason, the distance from the bottom rung to the ground should match the spacings between rungs.
A person is more likely to stumble if a gap between the bottom rung of a ladder and the ground is shorter or longer than the rest of the gaps between rungs.
For example, if the space to the floor from a ladder’s last rung is smaller than expected, a person stepping down may receive a significant impact.
Or if a person standing on a ladder’s second tread think they are on the first tread because distance to the ground is less than it should be, they may also injure themselves by taking one big step down to the ground.
In either case, a misjudged step caused by inconsistent gaps between rungs and the floor could cause musculoskeletal injuries requiring medical treatment and time off work.
Although current Australian Standard AS/NZS1657-1992 states ‘rung dimensions of all rungs and the distance between rungs in the same ladder shall be uniform and within a tolerance of ± 5 mm’ it doesn’t specify the gap between first rung and the ground.
Until the standard is revised to incorporate this, WorkSafe advises fixed ladder designers and installers to ensure all spaces between ladder rungs are equal and to make sure this includes the distance between the bottom rung and the base landing without more than a ten per cent deviation compared to the rest of the spaces.