Note: You may want to have samples on hand of the types of ladders your people use. If you have defective ladders, they can serve as especially effective visual aids.
When it comes to basic workplace equipment, it doesn't get much simpler than the ladder. Because ladders are so simplistic, many people overlook their potential hazards. Yet falls account for 15% of workplace injuries and deaths. Many of these falls are from ladders and may have been prevented if a few basics had been followed.
Two questions you should ask each time you use a ladder are:
- What condition is the ladder in?
- Am I using the right ladder for the job?
Inspecting the Ladder
When checking the condition of the ladder, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Rungs must be intact and free from grease or oil
- Make sure there are no splinters or sharp edges
- See that metal ladders are not dented or bent
- Safety feet should be in place
- All support braces and bolts must be secure
- Make sure ropes are not torn or frayed
- Make sure the hinge spreader works properly.
Note: OSHA requires that defective ladders be removed from service and tagged or marked as "Dangerous, Do Not Use" Discuss how this process works in your area
Choosing the Ladder
When choosing a ladder, first check the weight limit. Ladders are usually rated as follows:
- Type I-A ladders are heavy-duty and can handle up to 300 lbs.
- Type I ladders can hold up to 250 lbs
- Type II ladders can hold 225 lbs
- Type III ladders are for light duty only and can hold up to 200 lbs
Ladders also vary in length. Choose one that is high enough for the job, but not so high that it becomes a hazard
Using Ladders Safely
Some other thing to remember include:
- Make sure the ladder's feet are parallel to the surface it rests against
- Make sure the base is tied or held and that the top is anchored
- Avoid the top two steps of a stepladder and the top four rungs on other ladders
- Always face the ladder while using
- Place the ladder at a safe angle. The distance from the bottom of the ladder to the wall should be about 1/4 of the ladder's working height
- Do not use ladders that have been exposed to fire or corrosive chemicals
- Do not use a ladder for unintended purposes, such as in place of scaffolding
- Never allow more than one person on a ladder at a time
- Use both hands when climbing a ladder
- Avoid excessive stretching or leaning
Ladders are a pretty simple type of equipment. But don't allow that simplicity to get in the way of following safe procedures. As soon as you start feeling like an accident won't happen, the possibility of it occurring skyrockets.
Have a Safe Day!