When you think about the most dangerous piece of equipment for your construction workers, a ladder probably doesn’t come to mind. Other pieces of construction equipment require certifications, training and personal protective equipment. But, anyone can use a ladder. Why is the ladder so dangerous? Most construction workers don’t see it as a danger. Here’s some important information about ladder safety.
When you’re heading up a ladder, the last thing you want to do is let your guard down. Falling is the greatest threat when using a ladder. Any fall can result in a head injury which can result in serious medical injuries. But, even a broken bone or sprain can impact the efficiency of your project. Provide safety training for your construction workers to follow these simple steps when it comes to safe ladder use.
1. Research the height and ladder material.
The world of construction is based on choosing the right tool for the job. Never, is there a tool that can do every job. And, ladders are no exception. There are extension ladders, stepladders, A-frame ladders and so-on. The most important factor for choosing the right ladder is getting the right height. It’s not acceptable to stand on the on the top rung or above the highest working level that’s safe. After considering the height of the ladder, consider the material that the ladder is constructed from. A fiberglass ladder is often a safe, reliable choice. It avoids the risk of splintering like wood or creating a hazard when working around live power lines.
2. Follow the duty rating.
There are 2 common errors when using the duty rating. The first is thinking the maximum capacity in pounds is an approximate guideline. It’s not. If the ladder is rated for 225 pounds, a 250 pound person should not use the ladder. It won’t provide the needed protection, in fact, it could fail. The other mistake is only figuring in the user’s body weight. If the ladder is rated for 225, and the person is 215 pounds, but carrying up a 20 pound piece of equipment the capacity of the ladder is exceeded.
3. Check the ladder over before each and every use.
Before every use the ladder needs to be inspected. The structural parts need to be sound, hinges should be working properly, and fasteners secured. Never use a ladder if it leans to a side, the rungs are wet or parts appear to be loose.
4. Get the ladder in the right spot.
The ladder should always be placed on a stable surface that’s level. All feet need to be contacting the floor, completely. If any movement can be felt without a load, don’t use the ladder. The unsteadiness will only increase once a load is put upon the ladder. Extension ladders need the rungs to be locked into place. For every four feet of ladder height, the feet of the ladder should be one foot away from the wall. An A-frame ladder should be checked for hinges. Finding the right spot also means clearing the areas that surround a ladder. If a fall were to happen, it shouldn’t be made worse by falling on hazardous objects.
Don’t let ladder usage hinder your construction company. Learn the other safety steps to using a ladder properly in the next article. Take time to provide safety training for your construction workers to keep ladders as safe and effective tools.