Kier defends ladders policy

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Sheffield Council’s maintenance contractor Kier has banned staff from using ladders for some jobs – for health and safety reasons.

The company, which runs the city council works department on Manor Lane, has introduced a new Working at Height policy after the death of an employee who fell from a ladder in 2009 and now uses scaffolding for some jobs.

It means the authority is having to pay increased costs for work to buildings but Kier says the cost is minimal.

In Stoke, the city council had to spend an extra £1.4 million on scaffolding, for jobs including changing bulbs and security lighting.

Peter Brynes, Kier Building maintenance manager, said: “The safety of our workforce and the general public has to take priority.

“The death of one of our employees in 2009 following a fall from a ladder resulted in a review of our work-at-height policy and practices.

“Every job that involves working at height is risk-assessed and the appropriate access equipment is selected and deployed for specific circumstances.

“Where the use of a ladder is considered inappropriate, an alternative such as a mobile tower or podium is provided for safety reasons and that has to come before cost.”

He said the £1.4m in Stoke was not a regular annual outlay but for scaffolding to a planned roofing repairs programme.

Mr Byrne added: “We are not responsible for maintenance of internal domestic lighting but maintenance of exterior lighting may be within our working at height restrictions.”

Sheffield Council said it was unable to give details of how much it is charged for Kier staff to use scaffolding instead of ladders because it is not specified in its contract.