Ladder Safety

When thinking of training you want to provide your construction workers, ladder safety is probably not on the list.  It’s a tool that people use on a daily basis, from cleaning their gutters to changing a light bulb.  But, a ladder is often the most dangerous piece of equipment on a construction site.  Why? Because workers are complacent and forget about safety when it comes to this common piece of equipment.  In a previous article different steps to ladder safety were presented.  This article features the final steps to creating safe ladder usage.  Review the 2 articles to create ladder safety training for your construction workers.

Previous steps:

1.  Research the height and ladder material.
2.  Follow the duty rating.
3.  Check the ladder over before each and every use.
4.  Get the ladder in the right spot.
5.  Be ladder ready.

Look yourself over before climbing a ladder.  Do you have the personal protective equipment that’s needed for the job?  Are you wearing shoes that are slip-resistant?  Are you feeling your best? If you are overly tired, sick or dizzy, working a ladder will make these symptoms worse. Do not lean to reach an area.  Climb down, reposition the ladder and then go back up.

6.  Climb with both hands.

When you ascend a ladder don’t carry tools with you.  Use one of the following options instead. Wear a tool belt, pull the tools up by using a rope and bucket, or have a co-worker hand the tools to you.

7.  Follow the 3 point rule.

When you are climbing up, make sure you always maintain 3 points of contact.  This either means you have 2 feet and a hand on the ladder, or 2 hands and a foot making contact with the ladder.  Following this simple rule is an effective way to prevent an injury.

8.  Only 1 person on a ladder.

This rule seems obvious, but many people don’t follow it.  Ladders are intended to hold one person.  Even if 2 people are under the weight limit, the extra person could unbalance the ladder and cause it to tip over.

9.  Carefully descend.

The 3 point rule applies to ascending and descending a ladder.  Even if you are in a hurry, jumping down or sliding down poses a significant risk for injury.  Take the few extra seconds to finish the job correctly, by descending appropriately and carefully.

Don’t let complacency get in the way of a safety-oriented construction site.  Ladder safety may seem like common sense, and for the most part it is.  But, it is easy for a busy worker to forget a few simple rules.  Because ladders are used quite commonly, it’s easy for a worker to make a bad decision.  The problem is that one bad decision can result in a huge injury.  And, injuries are costly.  There are medical expenses, replacing the worker, needing more time to finish a job, and the bad feelings that come with a team member being hurt.  Recognize employees when you see a safety being followed.  Make sure safety trainings are provided, even on tools, like ladders.