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:
Set up safely and use the right ladder
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, and 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.
Take caution with ladder use
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 to 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. Contact us or all 800-891-9911 if we can help answer your safety questions or concerns.
Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager