Safety Tip - Ladder Safety

Posted By DEMILEC || 26-Dec-2012

Ladders are an important and versatile piece of equipment commonly seen around most jobsites. Ladders come in many different varieties such as straight ladders, extension ladders, fixed ladders, frame ladders, job-built ladders, and step ladders. Although a ladder seems simple enough to use, unsafe ladder practices can lead to serious injuries. Falls are the primary hazard involving ladder use.

A f all from a ladder can r es ul t from a numbe r o f re a s on s :

  1. U np ro t e c te d l a dd er s set up in open doorways or high traffic zones can be bumped into or knocked over, causing a fall.
  2. E mpl oy e es can s l ip or lose their balance while climbing or by over-reaching while working at the top of a ladder.
  3. I f a ladd e r i s not s e t up p rop e rl y it can shift, causing the person on the ladder to fall.
  4. Wea t her conditi o n s can affect safety on ladders used outside.

V i r tuall y al l l adder i nj uries can b e av o i de d i f e mployees are p r op e rl y t r a in e d in th e safe u s e of l ad d e r s , and follow these 4 simply rules.

Rule 1: Pick the right ladder:

The ladder should be of the correct type and length. An ordinary straight ladder will be used for most purposes. An extension ladder may be required for high work. A step ladder is used when you need a free-standing ladder or one with a tool tray. Some situations may not require a ladder at all. Instead, you may need a scaffold. Never use a metal ladder around any electrical installation.


Rule 2: Check the Condition of the Ladder

Never use a damaged ladder. Make sure all parts of the ladder are in good working order free from corrosion, rust, rot, cracks and other defects. Check the rungs, side rails, braces, hinges, ropes and pulleys. See that the rungs are free of slippery substances such as oil. Make sure that the non-slip rubber feet are in good condition. Check overall for any signs of warping or twisting.

I f up o n i n s p e c ti on , faulty or defective components are discovered, the ladder must be immediately tagged and removed from service. The ladder may not be returned to service until repairs equal to original manufacturer’s specifications are made.

Gravity never forgets. As soon as you set foot on the ladder’s first rung and pull your body off the ground, gravity works to bring you back to earth. Therefore, it is no surprise that ladder safety begins from the ground up.

Rule 3: Set up the ladder

With a straight ladder, walk it into position hand over hand. Make sure the base is solid. Tie the top if you can. A straight ladder should be placed against the wall at an angle so that the base of the ladder is one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height. You can remember this formula as the “four up, one out” rule. So a 16 foot extension ladder should be 4 feet out from the wall at the base.

A stepladder should be locked into a fully-open position before you attempt to use it.

Raising an extension ladder is a two-person job. There should be a considerable overlap between each section.

Rule 4: Work Safely on a Ladder

When climbing or working on a ladder, maintain three-point contact. This means that two hands and one foot, or one hand and two feet should be in contact with the ladder at all times.

Keep centered on the ladder. Here’s a way to remember to do so – your belt buckle should remain between the two side rails at all times. Never lean away from the ladder because you can cause it to topple.

  • Do not carry tools or materials in your hands. Keep tools in a belt, or hoist objects up after you.
  • Do not stand on the top few rungs of any ladder.
  • Footwear should have clean soles made of a non-skid material. Leather is too slippery.
  • Never move a ladder while you are on it.
  • Move slowly and carefully on a ladder.
  • Do not work on a ladder if you are ill, overly tired, or possibly under the influence of alcohol or other medications which will affect your ability to work safely on the ladder.

When you descend a ladder, practice the same safety rules. Face the ladder, keep your body square and hold on to the rungs. Lastly, step off at the bottom rung of the ladder. Never jump off of a ladder.

Think before you carry. Before you start to haul a ladder around, evaluate the area where you will be working. Ladders can be heavy and unwieldy. You can strike another person or object, or hit electrical power lines. Make the ladder as compact as possible before transporting it. Carry it horizontally while tilting it higher in front and lower in back. If the ladder is particularly long and heavy, get a coworker to help you carry it.

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