5 Simple Ladder Safety Tips

Exercise Caution, Don’t Fall

Everyone figures that they’ll be able to catch themselves when they fall but the fact is you’re often falling before your body can even think of reacting. An average person’s reaction time is half a second. In that amount of time, a person will have already fallen 4 feet. Catching yourself is not a plan but practicing good ladder safety, and being mindful of these 5 simple ladder safety tips is.

ladder safety tips standingNo one plans to fall yet the primary cause of injuries, according to OSHA, is from falls. They are so ubiquitous that it can be easy to forget that there is a risk when using ladders.

Like any other tool knowing how to use a ladder correctly and using it responsibly is the key to ensuring workplace safety. Remember with ladders there are steps you can take to mitigate the risks. The first step in using a ladder safely is being aware of these risks.

1) Choose the right ladder & Check the Weight Rating

Ladders come in a variety of shapes, sizes materials, and ratings. Different ladders will be needed for different jobs. Don’t just assume that any ladder will do for every single task. From boat dock ladders and platform ladders, to step ladders and extension ladders, there are so many to choose from. Knowing which one is appropriate for each task is crucial. Many accidents happen when people assume that the ladder they have is good enough or think “This’ll work”.

The most common ladders are step ladders (an “A” configuration) and extension ladders (stacked ladders that pull out). You’ll find these everywhere from an office utility closet to a major construction site. They may be fabricated from aluminum or fiberglass, and be available with different options.

Make sure you pick the correct type of ladder and height for what you are planning to do. You will usually find a label detailing ladder safety directly on the ladder itself and it will detail the height and weight limits. Don’t overextend a ladder for extra height and account for the weight of tools or equipment when looking at weight limits.

2) Always inspect the ladder before using it.

Before using a ladder make sure to inspect it to see that it is in good condition. Look it over to see if there is any damage or wear. Pull on rungs, and test the lock bars to make sure they are stable and secure. All of the safety precautions in the world won’t matter if the ladder breaks when you’re on it.

Don’t take chances when it comes to the condition of a ladder. It is too important a piece of equipment to take risks with one that is “good enough”. If you suspect any problems or damage, just get a new one.

ladder safety tips sun3) Make sure the ladder is stable before beginning to climb it.

Ask yourself these questions when setting up a ladder;

  • Are all of the ladder’s feet secure on the ground?
  • Is the ladder’s resting surface stable?
  • Do I need a spotter for this task?
  • Is there human or vehicle traffic? If so, what is the best way to prevent someone or something from knocking the ladder while you are on it?

Do not use a ladder until you are sure of its stability. Proper setting of a ladder, including grounding and clearance, are vital for ensuring ladder safety.

4) Make sure that you stay stable as you climb or stand on a ladder.

People will often try to stretch a little farther to reach another area when they are on the ladder. Remember to always maintain 3-points of contact on the ladder. That is either two legs and an arm or two arms and a leg. Standing on a rung and reaching past the ladder will shift your center of gravity away from the ladder, increasing your chances of falling.

Make sure to keep your body positioned within the rails of the ladder. Never overreach to the side of a ladder and make sure to face the ladder at all times. Being 100% sure of your balance will help ensure workplace safety.

5) Do not carry items with you as you climb the ladder.

One of the most common threats to ladder safety is attempting to work from a ladder or carry objects while climbing a ladder. This is similar to item 4 in that you need to make sure you aren’t shifting your weight away from the ladder. Trying to do too many things at once is dangerous enough on the ground.

In the workplace, OSHA statistics show that each year there are 36-fatalities and nearly 25,000 recordable injuries involving ladder falls. In the home, The US Product Safety Commission estimates there are 164,000 ladder-related injuries result in a trip to the emergency room.

You may also be surprised to hear that many of those injuries, and some of those fatalities, are the result of low falls from just a few feet in the air. Many cases that result in injury, paralysis, and death result from falls less than 6’ or from as little as falling from the first rung of a ladder. Even the most common injuries, like an arm or leg fracture or head and neck injuries, can occur at a low height. You can never be too safe on a ladder.

Moffitt Corporation has been providing industrial ventilation installation services for over 50 years. Workplace and industrial maintenance safety are always the top priority. Ask us about our safety information to learn more.

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