To reach ceilings and the tops of walls, people often work from ladders. Serious injuries can and do occur when people fall from ladders.

When using a ladder:

  • check that it is in good condition before using it. Do not use a ladder with missing, broken or loose parts
  • ensure the ladder is level and cannot slip
  • angle a straight ladder one metre out at the base for every four metres of height
  • if using a stepladder, make sure that it is fully opened with both stay bars locked.
  • do not over-reach on a ladder; climb down and move the ladder to the correct location.

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Lead-based paint

The removal of lead-based paint can result in harm to both the person removing the paint and people and animals in the vicinity. Young children are particularly at risk from lead poisoning.

It is not possible to identify lead-based paint by its appearance. If a building is over 40 years old, assume that it has been painted with lead-based paint.

If you wish to test whether a sample of paint includes lead, there are several options. Some paint stores sell a simple test kit that you can use with a chip of paint and some will even do a test for you, or can arrange one. There are also accredited laboratories that offer testing services for lead in chips of paint.

Inhalation of dust and fumes is the principal way lead enters the body, so paint debris must be prevented from becoming airborne during removal and clean-up.

Take the following precautions when removing lead-based paint:

  • Use drop sheets when removing paint.
  • Wet sand to reduce dust.
  • Fit a power sander with a vacuum dust bag.
  • Wear a dust mask at all times.
  • Collect dust and debris as work proceeds and bag or contain in a suitable closed container (e.g. in strong plastic bags).
  • Dispose in a place approved by the local authority.
  • Do not remove lead-based paint when children or animals are in the vicinity.
  • Move animals' food and water bowls to a safe place.

For more information see Guidelines for the Management of Lead-Based Paint.

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Asbestos wall cladding

BRANZ has estimated that around 9.5 million m2 of asbestos-cement wall claddings were installed on New Zealand homes in the period 1945–1984. If your home dates from this time and has the original cement-based sheet or plank cladding, the cladding may contain asbestos and care needs to be taken with painting and preparation for painting. If asbestos fibres get into the air and are breathed in they can cause potentially fatal illnesses. Fibre-cement wall claddings should never be water-blasted, sanded, cut with power saws or broken into pieces. It is possible to get a small sample of the cladding tested to see whether it contains asbestos. You can find more information here.

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