Setting up and climbing a ladder is pretty easy, right? Although the process might seem simple, there are a number of risks involved that aren’t immediately obvious. In fact, hundreds of people die each year in ladder-related accidents, which often occur in workplace environments.
There are many situations that call for the use of a ladder, so it’s essential to understand the correct procedures for a safe ascent and descent. Use the following ladder safety tips to prevent a costly and avoidable accident.
1. Help Employees Choose the Right Ladder
Having the right tool for the job makes a big difference in safety. Before employees take their first step on a ladder, they need to make a decision. Which type of ladder is appropriate for the task at hand? There are many important considerations, such as footing stability, desired climbing height, ladder duty ratings (maximum safe load capacity) and the environment surrounding the ladder. Using a metal ladder near electrical sources could lead to a shock and fall, for example. When your employees have received ladder training online, they will know which situations call for extension ladders, fixed ladders, step stool ladders and other varieties.
2. Encourage Ladder Inspections
Once an employee chooses the right ladder, they must take some time to look over the equipment for potential safety issues. Defects such as corrosion, cracks and loose rivets tend to become worse over time. They might not lead to any problems 99 times out of 100, but it only takes one failure to lead to a serious injury. Besides structural failures, a slipping ladder is another big risk. Inspections should include looking over a ladder’s feet, and online ladder training shows employees how to do so correctly.
3. Teach the Team How to Properly Set Up a Ladder
One of the most important decisions to make when setting up a ladder is where to place it. There are certain situations that may call for a ladder, but because the ground is unstable, eliminate the possibility of safely using this type of tool. Your team should know how to identify locations that will provide firm and level footing for the ladder. Additionally, if someone is propping a ladder against a wall, they should know what will provide proper support and what will falter with pressure. The angle at which an employee positions the ladder can also affect stability.
4. Make Proper Climbing Methods Clear
Many people feel a sense of uncertainty when climbing a ladder, because one wrong step can lead to a slip or fall. With the right technique, climbing up a ladder is safe, but the task requires a person’s full concentration. The climber should always have three points of contact with the ladder — either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand. When there is less contact than that, losing balance quickly becomes a real danger. Teaching this technique usually requires a visual demonstration, which online safety training provides.
5. Ensure Proper Movements on a Ladder
Once a person has reached their desired height on a ladder, safety precautions still matter. It’s easy to become comfortable at the top of a ladder, since what seems like the hard part is over, but it is still possible to throw the ladder off balance and fall from a dangerous height. Leaning, stretching or moving suddenly with momentum are all easy ways to cause an accident. Depending on the task at hand, it’s possible to become distracted and forget you’re on a ladder altogether. Proper training is essential for increasing stability on a ladder.
Take Steps to Improve Ladder Safety
Never assume anyone on your team knows how to use a ladder. If they have never received proper ladder safety training, there is a real risk for an accident. It’s better to be safe than sorry when you’re dealing with heights.
Contact our experts to reduce the risk of ladder accidents at work.
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Using a ladder outdoors when it’s very hot or cold poses additional risks. Check out our blog “Working in Extreme Temperatures: What Safety Managers Need to Know” to enhance your safety procedures.