Ladder Safety: Take it 1 step at a time

Falls from elevated surfaces are listed as one of the top 10 causes of accidents in the workplace. Most of these accidents occur due to failure to follow basic ladder safety. To help prevent ladder injuries, practice the following safety tips:

Setting up Safely
Make sure you select the correct ladder for the job – check the length and duty rating. There should always be a minimum of three feet extending over the roofline or working surface.

Inspect your ladder before each use for loose or damaged:
• Steps
• Rungs
• Spreaders
• Rung locks
• Safety feet
• Other parts
Clear the area where you will be working. Never place a ladder in front of a door that isn’t locked, blocked or guarded.

Because metal ladders conduct electricity, use a wooden or fiberglass ladder near power lines, electrical equipment and water.

Check that all locks on extension ladders are properly engaged before placing your ladder on a steady surface. The ground underneath the ladder should be level and firm. Large, flat wooden boards braced underneath a ladder can help level it on an uneven surface or soft ground. Straight, single or extension ladders should be set up at approximately a 75-degree angle.

Use the 1:4 ratio to ensure your safety when on a ladder. Place the base of the ladder one foot away from whatever it’s leaning against for every four feet of height up to the point of contact for the top of the ladder.

Use Caution
Always exercise caution when using a ladder and do not use it for any other purpose than intended. Other safety considerations include:
• Making sure the weight that your ladder is supporting does not exceed its maximum load rating (user plus materials). (And only one person should be on a ladder at a time.)
• Keeping your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times. Do not lean too far to the side while working. Never overreach – instead, descend from the ladder and move it to a better position.
• Not stepping on the top step, bucket shelf, or attempting to climb or stand on the rear section of a stepladder.
• Always facing the ladder when climbing up or down. Never leave a raised ladder unattended.
• Slowly stepping down from a ladder if you feel dizzy or tired.
• Wearing non-slip footwear all times when on a ladder. Be sure shoes are not greasy, muddy or slippery before climbing.
• Not using a ladder outdoors when it is windy.
• Carrying tools on a tool belt, not in your hand.
• Never leaning too far to the sides of the ladder. Keep your belt buckle within the side rails of the ladder.

Remember: Minimize ladder accidents by adhering to these safety and prevention tips.

The experts at BCN Services are here to help you keep your workplace safe. Call us at 800-891-9911 if we can help answer your safety questions or concerns.

 

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Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

Applications can help employers flesh out and verify candidate information

A job application is one of the most important components of the recruitment process, yet it is frequently overlooked. It is essential that an employer collect a job application from candidates prior to beginning the interview process for many reasons.

Here are just a few good reasons.

A job application:

• Allows the employer to consistently gather information about each applicant in a standardized manner. Resumes and cover letters from job candidates will vary greatly in formatting and information presented. Relying only on the applicant’s resume makes the hiring process more subjective and may allow unqualified candidates to move forward in the selection process.

• Asks for information from the applicant that is generally not included on the resume such as why the applicant left their previous positions and any felony or misdemeanor crime convictions relevant to the position.

• Provides a place for a required signature from the applicant attesting that all statements made on the application are true and allowing the employer to verify past employment, education and other credentials. Often employers will ask a candidate to acknowledge via signature that they understand policies and procedures such as at will employment and that a drug test may be required as a condition of employment.

BCN Services offers a standard employment application template and we can also work with you to customize an application specific to your business needs. Contact us at 800-891-9911 or visit bcnservices.com for more information.

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Alicia Jester, BCN Product Manager

Be cautious asking for confidentiality during workplace investigations

As an owner or manager of your company, complaints, allegations of harassment, or other types of grievances will inevitably come to your attention from time to time, meriting an investigation

In the past, you may have been involved with investigations where an employee was required to maintain confidentiality except with the person doing the investigation. Confidentiality is beneficial in an investigation if you are attempting to learn each person’s individual take on a situation and not have employees collaborating and tainting what is shared by their conversations.

But recent guidance from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) states that employees are allowed to discuss investigative situations as they are allowed to discuss job-related factors such as wages, job conditions and work assignments. The NLRB considers this a legally protected right of employees. There have been judgments against companies who have required employees to sign confidentiality statements when participating in investigations, especially when a company terminates an employee in the process of enforcing those statements.

Workplace investigations are best handled by BCN Services, which has professional staff to assist you and can provide an impartial, professional investigation of the situation. BCN will work with your management team as appropriate, and make recommendations designed to help defuse situations and protect the company from legal issues down the line.

Your management team will likely be involved in these discussions, too. It’s important that the BCN HR staff and your mangers be on the same page in approaching the investigation and what’s required or asked of employees.

The bottom line for employers: It’s acceptable to request confidentiality and explain how it will help the integrity of the investigation process, but use caution when prohibiting the discussion of sensitive information. Any disciplinary action plans related to the sharing of information should be carefully reviewed with the experts at BCN prior to taking action.

Trisha Crigger, HR Generalist