Best Practices to Prevent Ladder Accidents
Prevent Ladder Accidents
Accidents and falls from ladders are one of the leading causes of work-related injuries all over the world. Studies show that most of these accidents are caused by the carelessness on the part of users or lack of safety procedures being in place. Below are some safety practices that should be followed while using ladders in the workplace.
- Have your wits about you: Working off the ground (at height) requires you to have a sound state of mind. It is advisable not to use ladders when you are stressed out or intoxicated. If you are tired, injured, under the influence of alcohol or you are simply not confident about the climb – just don’t use the ladder.
- The condition of the ladder: Before climbing up, take a closer look at the equipment to make sure that it is in good shape, with rungs strong and secure. Check for any split rungs or worn out screws. The spreaders should be straight and in good condition along with the stopper.
If you are using an extension ladder, make doubly sure that the extension locks are not shaky or damaged. Ensure that the ladder base is on level ground and inspect the rungs for any debris that could off-set your balance. Step ladders should be secured properly while in the open position and a folding step ladder must never be used in an unfolded position.
Ladder accidents are also caused by the wrong selection of ladders for a specific job, instability, electric shock and falls, which can all be prevented with a bit of care. Stick to these safe working practices to prevent ladder accidents.
- Seek assistance: In case of a higher climb, seek the help of co-workers to balance the ladder. Take a closer look at the work area for any hazards like live wires. Ensure that you’re always under the load rating allotted for the ladder.
- Right technique: Stick to a three point climb (where at least three parts of your body are touching the ladder). It is prudent to face the ladder and not step sideways or climb backwards. Climbing may appear an innocuous task but is something that requires concentration, as a slight mistake is enough to send you tumbling down.
Keep the body weight centred on the ladder and climb one rung at a time. Make sure to keep your feet placed fully inside the rungs and not just the toes, which can make you wobbly.
Remember, your foot should be strongly placed on the rung before taking off the other foot. If you are carrying some extra weight in terms of tools etc, it becomes more difficult to retain your balance, as visibility is likely to be hampered. It is advisable to carry tools in a tool belt or pouch rather than in your hands.
Do not stand above the top three steps of any stepladder or on its rear section. Make sure not to bend your body outside the rails of a ladder. Move the ladder if you need to reach out to something outside the rails.
Lastly, never take an unnecessary risk as a ladder accident could leave you grievously injured. Do not rush while using a ladder, as climbing down from many feet above the ground requires patience and time! Follow these simple steps and you’ll avoid one of the most common work-site injuries from happening to you.