Falls from a height are considered one of the most common causes of workplace injuries and accidents, sometimes even resulting in death. These falls usually tend to be from ladders, so their safe and appropriate use is vital to ensure all workers are at minimal risk when performing their daily duties.
Ladders and stepladders should only be used when the task at hand cannot be performed in any form without them. Before you attempt to use them, carry out a ‘pre-use’ check to make sure that:
The stiles are not damaged in any shape or form, as this could lead to the collapse of the ladder;
The rungs are not missing, loose, or damaged;
The feet are not loose, damaged, or missing, as this can lead to a fall;
The stepladder platform is not split;
The locking mechanisms are not worn or damaged;
Once these checks have been done and no defects have been spotted, check whether the ladder available is suitable for the task. Although a ladder may be safe to use, to minimize risk, you must know how to use it.
With leaning ladders, the best advice would be never to overload them. Use primarily when dealing with light weights; heavier equipment can be dangerous, especially if you are working at a height. It’s called a leaning ladder, so if the angle is not at 75º before you step on, step off and ensure it is, then starts your task.
Maintain three points of contact when using a leaning ladder to minimize, and one hand and both feet should connect with the ladder. You should not reach on a ladder, get off and move it is closer to the desired area. Always grip the ladder, ensure you face the rungs when descending or ascending, and never slide down.
When using a stepladder, most advice is with a leaning ladder, carrying light, having three points of contact, and not overreaching. Other topics of safety include limiting the side positioning of a stepladder as often as possible, and it is best to have it facing the area of the task and making sure the locking mechanisms are engaged.
After a ‘pre-use’ check and understanding how to use ladders and stepladders, you must also be mindful of where the ladder will be used.
Ladders and stepladders should be used on clean, firm, and level surfaces, this guarantees the stability of the ladder. Avoid shiny floors as they tend to be slippery, be sure to have them where there is no risk of anyone or anything moving the ladder while you are on it, this includes doors, windows, and cars.
Leaning ladders can be secured to further minimize the chances of accidents by tying their stiles to a stable object.
Understanding how to use ladders and stepladders significantly reduces workplace incidents; the health and safety of employees should always be at the forefront of any company.
Teaching workers how to use workplace tools safely shows you, as an employer, put their learning and well-being first.