The Access Industry Forum – a first step to safety

Access Industry Forum

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The Access Industry Forum – a first step to safety

Many people within the work at height sector will be familiar with the Access Industry Forum. But I’ve no doubt there will be lots of people from a whole range of sectors reading this who haven’t heard of us or the work we do – so I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce the Access Industry Forum and explain a bit more about what we do and how we can help you.

Written by Lorraine Brown, Marketing & PR Committee Chair, Access Industry Forum

Established in 2004, the Access Industry Forum (AIF for short) is the not-for-profit forum that represents the ten principal trade associations and federations involved in work at height. Our members include ATLAS, EPF, FASET, IPAF, IRATA, The Ladder Association, NASC, PASMA, SAEMA and WAHSA. That’s a lot of abbreviations I know! Each member organisation represents a different sector of the access industry and are the ‘go-to’ authorities in their respective fields. On a day-to-day basis each member generally operates individually, but when it comes to advancing safety, best practice and competency when working at height, we all come together with a common goal – we strive for a future where everyone who works at height comes back down safely. We all have a part to play to make that happen.

We actively support the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height that brings together MPs and Peers with government, industry leaders, trade associations, SMEs and contractors. The aim is to raise awareness of the risks of working at height, understand why accidents happen and propose effective, sensible measures to make work at height safer.  We’re committed to supporting the APPG throughout 2022 and I’d encourage you to do the same. Take a look at their website for further information and details of upcoming meetings (being held virtually for now), as you’re welcome to attend.

Of course we are also proud supporters of The No Falls Foundation, with many AIF members having already joined their Supporter Scheme. If you’re looking for a worthy cause to support this year, look no further, and help them continue their important work in the sector.

That’s a bit about the AIF, how can we help you?

  1. Think of the AIF as your first port of call for any work at height queries. As a central point of contact for all ten associations, we can point you in the right direction to get the information you need, please just ask!

  2. We also offer free guidance that you can download from our website. One resource I recommend you look it is ‘Safety Steps’, created by the Managing Risk Well group, a safety body within CONIAC, with input from the AIF. ‘Safety Steps’ is a series of guidance documents for different duty holders from client to designer, manager through to operatives. It starts with a range of questions to consider and provides prompts to help you evaluate the risks and issues when working at height can’t be avoided. They are available from our website.

  3. This year, we’re excited to be launching a series of webinars hosted by our members. Expect topics such as Managing Work at Height, Training & Competency and Temporary Works. While we’re still finalising the exact dates for these, make sure you’re following us on social media as I’ll be posting updates there first. You can find us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Working at height takes place all day, every day, and everywhere. Whatever sector you’re in, however big or small your business, and whatever method you’re using to work at height, we have a network of members who can help – feel free to contact the AIF or any one of our members when you need specific advice.

For more information, visit our website:  https://accessindustryforum.org.uk/

Lorraine Brown

Lorraine Brown

Lorraine has 20 years’ marketing experience, employed throughout that time with a number of access manufacturers, equipment suppliers, and health and safety consultancies. Now freelance, Lorraine chairs the AIF Marketing & PR Committee and offers marketing support to a number of work at height trade associations.

Copyright 2022 No Falls Foundation l All rights reserved l Registered Charity Number 1177494

Thinking twice before climbing the ladder

Marcy O'Brien

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Thinking twice before climbing the ladder

This is not about climbing the ladder of success. In fact, it’s almost the opposite – toppling off the ladder of disaster.

Written by Marcy O’Brien, an award-winning columnist based in Pennsylvania

I don’t know what the attraction is between men – particularly men of the senior persuasion – and their ladders. I know it has something to do with getting a job done quickly and proving that they still have the mojo to do it. Calling on someone more expert, or God forbid, younger, is not on their radar.

In one way, I understand, because I would very much like to be able to do everything I did when I was 50, or even 60. For example, I used to do laundry all morning, clean in the afternoon, and write into the wee hours after making dinner and cleaning up afterwards. Today? Pick one of those activities and give me two days.

But would I climb on a ladder these days? Fuggedaboudit. Fortunately, I am immune to the prevailing syndrome that causes men to climb ladders. It’s called Testosterone Poisoning. It is strictly a male disease.

Over the years, several male friends have fallen victim to this particular malady soon after their retirement.

The well-known owner of our local radio station waited a whole week after his retirement party before climbing to the top of his extension ladder. Roy was 6’8”, and probably thought nothing of stretching his enormous reach another few feet – or 20. He fell from the roofline of his tall house. It didn’t kill him, but it slowed him down for a long time, and changed his new carefree days…forever.

Another neighbor waited until soon after his retirement to climb onto his porch roof to clear winter debris. When he fell – first on the iron handrail, then landing on the brick steps – he only broke a wrist. And his dignity.

Last year, another friend fell from his roofline just by stretching too far – a common occurrence in the world of ladder statistics. Armed with a chainsaw, he watched helplessly as the heavy branch he had cut at the roofline fell through his ladder. The force of the large branch plunged him over the edge of a ravine. Falling almost 30 feet, he lay unconscious for hours before being discovered by his wife. His concussion required rehab, his hip required rebuilding, and it changed his life…forever.

All of these men are smart – even brilliant – in their professional pursuits. But not on a ladder. Men have a compulsive need to climb, and I have discovered the one word that gets them in trouble: Roofline.

Ladder + roofline + male over 65 = catastrophe.

Last year the catastrophe fell too close to home. Our Dean is a dear friend, dating back to his years on the job with my Dear Richard as New York State Troopers. And he is also the computer genius who keeps us running electronically. Dean doesn’t buy computers – he builds his own. I confess that a few columns wouldn’t have arrived in this space without his perseverance. He is our guru, and without him we couldn’t survive computerdom.

But for all his genius, Dean connected his ladder to a roofline, and changed his life…forever.

A year ago, he climbed onto his one-story roof – or almost did – for a quick repair. He stood his ladder on the small sidewalk beside his Florida house. Everything was fine until he reached the top of the ladder. As his stepped forward to plant one foot on the roof, the ladder leaned heavily into his new soft vinyl gutter – and the bottom skidded away from the house on the cement below. As Dean described his soaring dive from the roofline, “It was a triple gainer with a twist.” Unfortunately, the twist was his leg going through the ladder before they both tumbled onto the hard cement.

The surgery to rebuild his lower leg, crushed ankle, and divided heel was extensive. For the first few months, he thought the 16 long steel pins sticking a half foot out of his ankle and leg were individual. Turns out they were 8 long pins that crossed inside to pull everything back together. A large bolt, an “external fixator” also stuck out of his shin for many months. He lived in a wheelchair and slept in a recliner. Computerless. Months later, he worked his way back to his keyboard. Today, he is finally able to walk, but no day is without pain.

Sadly, the formula proved again. Ladder + roofline + male over 65 = catastrophe. Disaster. Life-changer.

So, dear male readers, PLEASE do not even think of combining yourself with a ladder and a roofline. I cannot imagine a better way to spend your retirement check than on someone younger and stronger to save your neck.

You should safely enjoy your golden years…your personal forever.

Marcy O'Brien

Marcy O'Brien

The award-winning Marcy O’Brien writes her 18-year-old column from her home in Warren, PA. She appears weekly in the Warren Times Observer, the Jamestown (NY) Post Journal, and the Dunkirk (NY) Observer.

Copyright 2022 No Falls Foundation l All rights reserved l Registered Charity Number 1177494