Contractors could soon be banned from working on ladders after a serious fall by a worker on the demolition of the quake-crippled Hotel Grand Chancellor in Christchurch.

Emergency talks were called by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) and Department of Labour health and safety officials after last Friday's incident which hospitalised a 42-year-old worker with critical head injuries.

The government has just launched a crackdown on falls from height, which accounts for almost a quarter of all fatal injuries in the construction sector.

And now, it is understood that health and safety bosses want to introduce a complete ban on working from ladders on building sites across New Zealand.


The move, if adopted by the Department of Labour, would mean that contractors could still use ladders for access and moving around, but would prevent them working on them.

One unnamed construction industry insider told The Star: "OSH are pushing hard for a ban on working from ladders across the country.

"This latest fall was high profile, but accidents involving ladders are happening all the time, and OSH wants them gone. There are ways to work without using ladders.''

A spokeswoman for the Department of Labour said: 'A ban on ladders is not part of our campaign, but there might be moves to introduce a ban. Ladders should always be used as a last resort.''

OSH halted demolition work of the crippled 28-storey hotel with a prohibition notice, and won't be lifted until the contractors, Fletchers makes changes to its site safety. The investigation is ongoing.

It appears that the Fletcher employee fell from a ladder from a height of between two and three metres on the 23rd storey. The man is recovering in Christchurch Hospital where there has been slow but steady improvement to his condition.