Avoid unnecessary injury and join us in our pledge for safer practices involving ladders.
Ladders seem like a safe and relatively harmless tool to use while performing maintenance. Although this is true, if used improperly, a ladder can result in employees getting hurt, disabled, or in extreme cases, an accidental death. I’m sure by this point, you are shaking your head as you say to “that won’t happen to me,” but one mistake or oversight can result in the worst possible scenario. Keep reading to learn how you can avoid these preventable injuries and safety tips you can take straight into your workplace today.
1. Ensure a sturdy base. Before you even attempt to mount the ladder, when you plant it, ensure it is on a level surface. Remove any obstacles (even ones that seem harmless) and make sure the rubber feet (they are there, correct…?) are firmly planted on the ground. It is a good rule of thumb to place the base one quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or vertical surface you are working on, and an extension ladder should never rise more than 3 ft above the support. (see diagram courtesy of OSHA)
2. Do not stand on the top step. Yeah, the bright one that says “CAUTION. THIS IS NOT A STEP.” Well that’s in place for a reason. Standing on the top step puts you at a very vulnerable and unstable position. I know that it seems like you can almost reach and you just need that last boost to get to the work area, but don’t do it. Get a taller ladder. It is worth the extra time and effort to ensure the ladder matches the task at hand and reduce the injury potential.
3. Do not lean your body outside of the rails. If you find yourself outside of the rails, you are overreaching. Unmount the ladder, move it where you need to work, ensure secure footing, then remount the ladder. Never attempt to move the ladder, even the slightest skoch, while you are still on it.
4. Keep a hand free while mounting the ladder at all times. It is very unsafe to purely rely on gravity to hold your body firmly to the ladder. If you have too many items to carry up, use a tool belt, have tools handed to you, or lift tools from a handline bucket.
5. Only one person on the ladder at any given time. This seems like a ‘gimme,’ but it still happens and is the root cause of many accidents. If you both need to work in the same area, you both need a ladder or scaffolding is better suited. If you need to hand something up to someone on a tall ladder, have them meet you where they can safely grab the item without you having to step up on their ladder.
We understand that some of the tips seem rudimentary or that these scenarios would never happen to you, but these concepts are important to remember and you should always think before you react while on a ladder. Start taking these tips and skills into your workplace today and educate others if you see them making a similar mistake.
Want to learn more on proper ladder safety techniques? We offer an entire library of Maintenance Safety online training courses for any operation. Reach out to 316.265.1585 x122 or firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your free demo!