You and your coworkers might be super confident around ladders. You might use them all the time and scamper up and down without fear. But it’s important to remember that ladders, though they seem harmless enough, present risks to your safety. Falling from heights is always among the top ten causes of workplace injuries. To help you brush up on your ladder safety skills, become a pro, and avoid worker’s comp claims, we’ve come up with a dozen safety tips for you and your coworkers.
1. Wear the proper footwear.
It’s important that you wear nonslip shoes if you’re going to be climbing up and down ladders. If the soles of your shoes don’t have enough grip, you could find yourself in free fall before you even realize what happened.
Also, take the time to check the bottom of your shoes before going up. Mud, debris, or leaves stuck to your soles might cause your foot to slip. Clean your shoes off before climbing.
2. Always face the ladder when climbing up or down.
Always face the rungs when you’re going up or going down. This will help you keep your balance and have more security on the steps.
3. Take turns.
Only one person on the ride at a time, please. Ladders are only meant to hold one person. Adding a second person to the mix can throw off the balance and support, which might result in the ladder crashing down.
4. Watch the doors.
Don’t put a ladder near a door that could hit it if it opened suddenly. Make sure that all problem doors are locked or guarded if someone has to get on a ladder near a doorway. Also, don’t support or prop the ladder against a door – bad plan. If the door suddenly opened … well, no one wants to do a face plant, right?
5. Clear the area around the base of the ladder of items that could endanger the worker using it.
Make sure to keep the work area nice and tidy. Move anything that could cause a teammate harm out of the way.
6. Work in pairs.
There should be someone to hold the ladder to keep it steady whenever someone climbs. Don’t fly solo – employ the buddy system.
7. Never move the ladder while someone’s on it.
The ladder should only be moved when everyone has their feet safely on the ground. Seriously. Avoid the insurance claim and save money on your business insurance premiums.
8. Keep your center of gravity steady.
Balance is important when it comes to ladders. Your belt buckle should always be in the middle of the rungs to make sure that you’re centered and balanced. Don’t stretch or overreach over the side – you could lose your balance and make an unplanned descent to the ground.
9. Choose the right ladder for the job and set it up right.
Make sure that your ladder is the right size for the task at hand. The length of the ladder should be three feet over the roofline of the roofing surface if you’re doing roof work.
When you place the ladder against the wall or surface, it should make a 75˚ angle with the ground. You can use the 1:4 ratio trick to help you figure out if you’ve got the angle right. Place the base one foot back from the wall for every four feet of height from the ground to the place of contact.
10. Don’t step on the top rung or shelf.
The big “NOT A STEP” and “DO NOT STEP” signs are there for a reason. Don’t disobey the warnings. It might seem like you can balance on that top step, but it is definitely not worth the risk of falling.
11. Make sure the ladder is in good condition.
Never use a ladder that’s broken or in disrepair. Ladders that aren’t in tip-top shape can slip, break, or collapse while someone’s using them. And that would not be good. If you’re using an extension ladder, check all of the locks carefully and make sure they’re secure before using it.
12. Set up the ladder on a firm, solid surface.
Be sure to place the base on a steady, even surface so that it won’t wobble or slip.
13. Don’t leave a ladder set up and unattended.
When you’re done with the ladder, take it down and move it to a safe place. Don’t leave it propped up against a home or wall and walk away – that’s a general liability claim waiting to happen if someone gets hurt.
Ladders might not seem like the most dangerous of tools, but falls are a serious cause of injury among workers. It’s important not to skip the basic safety rules of using ladders on the job. Make sure everyone stays safe by training everyone in proper ladder use and enforcing safety skills in the workplace.
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