Step in the Right Direction
Start by identifying the right height-access tool for the job. Remember that ladders are ideal for light duties that are short and infrequent. For recurrent tasks, opt for a platform stepladder that provides space to keep your tools close at hand and your balance centred.
Aaron Duggan, director at AMD Quality Construction, says he makes sure he has one ladder for every job. “I equip my team of seven workmen with everything from a three-foot stepladder to four-foot and six-foot ladders, a couple of good extension ladders and a double-sided ladder because it’s so important to make sure you can access the job and do it properly.”
Lightweight but durable is best, so look for both aluminium braces and frame and a weather-resistant and non-slip platform surface for safety. For extended duties, WorkSafe suggests a correctly set-up scaffold system that provides a fully-fenced, stable work platform allowing access to multiple levels. “Safety is the number one priority for my team,” says Duggan, “because at the end of the day, they are the most valuable asset on the worksite. Just like you’ll waste time in the long run if you do something slapdash, it will be to the workman’s, the worksite’s and the project’s detriment if proper safety precautions aren’t taken.”
Regardless of the equipment, always abide by the following rules of thumb:
1) High-grade aluminium with top-quality bracing will provide strength and still be lightweight, allowing easy manoeuvrability around internal and external wall spaces.
2) Simple but effective design should mean quick assembly and dismantling times, allowing you to get on with the job.
3) The expense of purchasing a good ladder shouldn’t place too much strain on the finances, but always remember that it is worth making an investment in quality, long-lasting equipment.
“Lightweight materials save my team from unnecessary fatigue, enabling them to stay focused on the job and work smarter, not harder,” says Duggan. “Price is important for me, but I’m not cost-driven. From experience I’ve learned it’s worth paying for the quality of a leading brand, because with their reputation comes reliability and trust.”
With so many choices out there, it can be confusing deciphering one brand from the next. Always check that it meets Australian and New Zealand safety standards, and that is made from durable materials. You’ll get more in the long run.