Posted on: 13 May 2019
Helping prevent a frequent industry injury
One of the most frequent injuries in the work place is a fall from height, which frequently makes it into the top 10 causes of workplace injury. A ladder is one of the main pieces of equipment that a member of your team will be using when working from height, so knowing how to safely use them, and giving yourself regular reminders will help to keep you and your team safe.
Take a look at our guide to ladder safety below for a quick refresher on how you can make sure you and your employees are working safely at height.
Safe set up
Choosing the right ladder
Setting up your ladder for use is the first step in ladder safety. You should start by ensuring that you are using the proper ladder for the job that you need to do. The ladder will need to be the right height for the work that you need to do, and you should also make sure to check the ladder’s duty rating.
Check your equipment and surroundings
When you are happy that you have the right ladder, visually inspect the steps, rungs, spreaders and feet to make sure that it is suitable for use. Once you are happy with the state of the ladder, check where you are working to make sure that there are no unguarded doors or overheard wires which could cause injury. Consider using a wooden or fibreglass ladder if you know that you will be working near electrical currents.
Putting your ladders up
When you put your ladders up, make sure that any extensions are properly in place and that the feet are flat and stable on the floor. If the ground is uneven, use a secured wooden board to even out the ground, but never use other unstable or unsecured items to try to level the ground.
When putting your ladders up, try to have them at an approximately 75 degree angle to ensure the safest angle for your ladder. Use the 1:4 ratio to work out the proper distance for your ladder, for example, the base of your ladders should be an extra 30cm away from the wall for every 120cm of height in the ladder. You should also make sure that you never leave your ladders unattended.
If you are working with warehousing ladders or platform ladders, make sure that you apply the brakes to your ladders when you have them set where you need.
Working at height
Using ladders can be very dangerous, leading to severe injury. Only using a ladder for its intended use, and using the utmost caution is essential to make sure that you are safe when working from height.
Maximum weight load
All ladders will have a maximum weight that they are designed to carry. Make sure that you know the maximum weight and your own weight before using your equipment. Overloading the ladder, coupled with unsecure extensions, can be a recipe for disaster.
Whilst using your ladder, try to keep your body as centred as possible. Over reaching in any direction will put you off balance, and could potentially lead to a fall, causing injury. If you need to reach slightly further, try moving up or down the ladder to find a better position.
Use the proper steps
Only use the rungs of the ladder to step on, as using the top step or bucket shelf to reach a higher area will unbalance the ladders and, again, put you at risk of a fall.
Ascending or descending
When climbing up or down the ladder, always face the steps. Twisting your body to look down will put both you and the ladder off balance, which again, could lead to a fall. You should never face away from the ladder, as your grip will become limited and your weight will be distributed in a way that could cause you to fall forward.
Don’t risk dizziness
If you notice that you become dizzy when climbing up your ladders, come back down immediately. Take a moment to refocus and have a drink of water, but if dizziness persists, see a GP before attempting to climb any more ladders.
Use the correct footwear
Always wear non-slip footwear when you know you are going to need to use a ladder, and make sure that footwear is securely fastened.
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Source: Zywave Inc – Safety Matters – Minimising injuries through ladder safety
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