Written by Gail Bray
I have spent most of my career spanning +25 years in Operational/HSSE and HR Roles for large Oil and Gas Companies
If you are anything like me, you grew up in a household where there were several ladders. Dad had a step ladder, ladders to get up to the roof which I now know as an extension ladder. He had metal as well as wooden ladders. They were always in the garage, patiently waiting to be used. I didn’t give it a second thought until a friend of mine was working on his garage roof one weekend many years ago and fell. It wasn’t a very high building, only one story. That fateful day, my friend lost his life. It was a huge shock obviously to his family but all who knew him. He was known around the work place as one of those types to always be doing the right thing, working safely and following the rules. I remember when he was laid to rest, seeing his lovely family stricken with grief. These tragic events didn’t happen to people I knew. It all happened so quickly and it made no sense!
I will explore the risks of falling from height and some of the prevention measures you can use to ensure you keep safe specifically when using ladders.
Falls are one of the most common causes of injury and death in the workplace and the home. Working at height and ladder safety deserves careful consideration.
Most injuries are caused by falls from heights less than 4 meters. Statistics from the Safe Work Australia, Construction Industry Profile
For more information on what ladder would best suit your work, you can visit this page: https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/hazards-a-z/ladders
Think back to the last 10 incidents you have had. In most instance, 9 out of 10 were caused by human error. You can be suppled all the correct equipment and procedures, however sometimes these are not used or followed.
Most people want to be recognised as doing a great job and to be high achievers whilst having respect from their work peers and colleagues. Then why is it the statistics show many incidents are caused by human error.
Understanding how we are hard-wired may give us the self-awareness to create a “pattern interrupt” and break our usual path of action. This can be very difficult though. Imagine trying to change a very old habit.
Often our conscious mind knows what and how we should be taking action, however it is our subconscious that will drive our behaviours.
Some examples of behaviours that can cause incidents
A combination of the appropriate equipment, accessing the risks and understanding the human factors work together in keeping people safe and preventing falls.
It’s a hard topic to bring up with a work mate or peer, however I think we all know when there have been times we should have spoken up. We want the best for our friends and work colleagues and most importantly, we all want to go home and be able to spend time with our loved ones and enjoy our life outside of work.
This is by no means an extensive list of safety precautions.
Ladders and Safety is a difficult topic to get right as there are many factors at play. Although it is an important consideration as one slip or fall can have tragic consequences as my friend’s family discovered that day many years ago.
For more information on construction safety visit: QLD Government Construction Working at Heights Information