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Ladder Safety – 500,000 Injuries in USA annually

It’s hard to believe that over 500, 000 people each year are injured from falls from ladders, most could have been prevented if the user had thought more about ladder safety. We are going to explore 8 ladder safety tips when working at height. The safety of you and your team is the most important consideration prior to starting any job. If something was to happen to you, who would run your business or look after your loved ones. Working at height is a safety topic often discussed at work but frequently over looked when working at home. Ladders are an amazing tool for a multitude of purposes. They are used daily all over the world by a diverse range of people. These include roofers, builders, fire fighters, solar installers, plumbers, electricians, home handy men, window washers and many more. Whether you’re cleaning gutters or hanging up your Christmas lights it is essential to focus on fall prevention

Ladder falls are one of the most common and debilitating injuries. Every year there are many incidences where ladders have not been used correctly or safely and victims have suffered the consequences. Falls from ladders can lead to broken bones, spinal damage, brain injury and even death. In Australia between 2003 and 2007 there were 37 deaths due to ladder falls. From these incidences, 12 occurred on a construction site, 10 at a commercial premises, 8 at residential premises, 2 on a farm and 5 from other locations (Safe Work Australia: 2013). Statistics have shown that men, sixty-five years and over are most vulnerable, having experienced the highest levels of ladder fall incidences. The risks of using ladders can have an effect on everyone. Whether it is an employee, loved-one or yourself up on the ladder, it is important to be informed on ladder safety.

There are many ways we can improve our ladder safety. I will run through some basics safety tips you can take to increase your ladder safety knowledge and decrease the risk of injury.

  1. Types of Ladders – Choose the right ladder

The first safety tip is before beginning the job, choose the right type of ladder. Make sure the ladder you use meets government safety standards, is a suitable height and that the weight capacity is suitable for whom and what you need to use it for. You can also take note of the material the ladder is made from. There are different kinds of materials used in ladders that have their own pros and cons. Research which one is best for the job you need to do.

  1. Make sure the ladder is in good condition before use

Ladders can sit around in our garages for years without being used which is why it is important to check that it is in good condition before each use. Some things to look for are that there are no missing or loose parts such as steps, rungs, nails or bolts. Also check that there is no rot, decay, sharp edges, corrosion or cracks. Read the safety warnings on the ladder and follow the advice given by the manufacturer.

  1. Ensure you (or the person using the ladder) is physically safe and capable of doing so

You should assess a range of factors for this step. These can include ensuring you are medically fit as well as trained in the task you are undertaking. Other factors to take into account are the conditions you are working in and how long you will be required to be working.

  1. Wear the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Wear the correct PPE for the job such as work boots, gloves and appropriate clothing. Regulations in each country will specify the PPE required for worksites.

  1. Ladder accessories

Legislation in most countries require the ladder to be secured at the top and bottom of the ladder. Ladder safety accessories can come in handy when setting up and securing your ladder. Ladder accessories such as clamps are useful tools for lowering your risks. They are easily accessible and can be found at height safety distributors, some Hardware stores and online. Ladder accessories are often quick to install but can make a huge difference to your confidence. They can make the job easier, safer and more efficient.

  1. Set up your ladder safely

Another safety tip to consider is to ensure your ladder is set up on a level, stable surface away from any hazards such as powerlines and exposed electrical wiring. All locks and braces on the ladder should be engaged. If using an extension ladder make sure the top, bottom or both are secured. Ladders should be angled at a ratio of 1:4 (bottom of the ladder is 1 metre away from the structure for every 4 metres high).

Consider the job you are doing and choose what you think will suit your needs.

  1. Use the ladder correctly

As many injuries occur due to incorrect/inappropriate use of ladders it is important to know the basics before climbing. Maintain three point contact with the ladder. This means either two hands and one foot or one foot and two hands. Stay in the centre of the ladder whilst climbing. Do not reach away or lean from the ladder whilst you are on it. Only carry small items up and down the ladder that allow you to maintain three point contact (Ladder accessories and other tools are useful when they can be attached to a belt). Face the ladder where possible. Do not climb past the second-last rung of the ladder.

  1. The final Ladder safety tip – Store Correctly

Keep your ladder in a safe location where it will not be a hazard to anyone. Store in a dry place to prevent corrosion and warping.

Your safety is the most important factor in doing any job. These are just a few basics ladder safety tips to get you started. Applying ladder accessories, using the ladder correctly, wearing the correct PPE and ensuring you are fit for the job are few essential considerations. Each job and project will be specific to the task, conditions and location. Make sure you are well informed on all aspects of the job so you can take to prevent any mishaps. Explore the new heights that your ladder safety knowledge can lead you to!