Workplace Health & Safety Queensland (WHSQ) recently issued a safety alert highlighting the potential for degradation of fibreglass ladders that can lead to a structural failure.
The worker was coming down a 120-kilogram load-rated fibreglass dual purpose step ladder that was set up in its unfolded (straight) configuration when it snapped in two.
The failure occurred at the main hinge point, where the stiles contact the back of the top cap (remembering the ladder is approximately straight with the rear legs upside down). The break occurred through the fibreglass stiles. He fell approximately two metres, injuring his back.
The safety alert noted that the ladder appears to have been several years old. There was some damage to it, including to the top cap which may have been caused by a significant impact or the ladder being dropped.
Inspection of fibreglass ladders or those that use plastics can be more difficult compared to metal ladders, as material degradation can be more of a problem. Close inspection of these types of ladders is imperative to check if any degradation or faults exist with the ladder.
WHSQ subsequently recommended a number of required actions: