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Becoming proficient in ladder safety techniques
Becoming proficient in ladder safety techniques

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Becoming proficient in ladder safety techniques

Ensuring Safety at Every Step

When working at heights, practicing ladder safety is crucial to avoid accidents and injuries. Read on to discover our top recommendations for staying safe at every step.
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Verify Physical Capability

Individuals must be able to perform the physical tasks required for each type of ladder.

Select the Appropriate Ladder for the Task

When choosing a ladder, decide whether a step ladder or an extension ladder is needed. Ensure it has the right load capacity, considering not only your weight but also the weight of your equipment, tools, and materials. Select a ladder with a duty rating and weight capacity suitable for the job. Avoid overloading, as it can jeopardize safety. Step ladders should be long enough to work from without using the top three feet to maintain stability. Never stand on the top step or cap of a step ladder. Ensure extension ladders are secured and extend at least three feet above the landing platform. Do not use a ladder horizontally as a makeshift platform, as this is very dangerous. Always use ladders as intended and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Inspect the Ladder for Damage Before and After Each Use

When ensuring a ladder’s safety, it is important to check for signs of damage or wear. Look for structural issues such as split or bent side rails, broken rungs, or loose rails and braces, as these can affect stability and pose significant safety risks. Also, watch for grease, dirt, or other contaminants that could cause slips and falls. It is crucial to confirm that the ladder’s rungs, rails, and braces are in good condition to prevent accidents.

Be mindful of ladders that have been painted or have missing or worn safety/warning stickers, as paint can conceal underlying damage or defects that may compromise the ladder’s integrity. If any defects or issues are found during the inspection, take the ladder out of service immediately and replace it with a safe and reliable alternative.

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Choose a Safe Location

To ensure a safe working environment, keep the area around the ladder free from clutter and obstructions that could cause tripping or loss of balance. Avoid placing the ladder near electrical wiring to minimize the risk of electrocution.

In high-traffic areas, use a barricade to protect the ladder base and prevent accidental collisions or disturbances while working at heights. Additionally, be mindful of nearby doors that may unexpectedly open toward you while you’re on the ladder. Secure or block these doors to prevent them from swinging open and causing accidents.

Position on a Level, Firm Ground

Avoid placing the ladder on unstable surfaces like boxes or barrels to gain extra height.

Ensure Ladder Stability

Position ladders on stable and level ground. In case of soft or uneven surfaces, consider using stabilizers, leg levelers, anti-slip gutter guards, or wide boards to maintain stability and prevent accidents. Avoid moving or adjusting the ladder while someone is on it or when equipment is placed on it, as this could result in hazardous situations and potential injuries. Prior to use, ensure that portable ladders like step or combination ladders are fully extended and that the spreaders and locking mechanisms are securely engaged.

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Follow the 1:4 Guideline

When positioning leaning ladders like extension ladders, it’s advised to use a 1:4 ratio for the angle. This means that for every 4 feet in height, the base should be placed 1 foot away from the wall or structure it’s leaning against. For example, with a 20-foot ladder, ideally, position the base around 5 feet from the wall. This arrangement promotes stability and reduces the chances of the ladder slipping or falling during use.

Ascend and Descend Carefully

When climbing up or down, always face the ladder, ensuring your body stays aligned. This posture aids in maintaining balance and control during the activity.

If you need to carry small objects such as hand tools, consider using holsters or pouches attached to your belt or clothing. This method allows both hands to stay firmly on the ladder.

Always Keep Three Points of Contact

To guarantee stability and balance while ascending a ladder, ensure that at least three points of contact are maintained. This can be achieved by using two hands and one foot, or by utilizing two feet and one hand on the ladder rungs. Ascend slowly and refrain from sudden movements.

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Avoid Leaning or Reaching Away from the Ladder

Extending or leaning away from the ladder while using it significantly heightens the risk of instability and falls. To prevent accidents, we advise descending from the ladder and repositioning.

Offer Thorough and Regular Training

Providing comprehensive training to employees on recognizing ladder-related hazards is essential for reducing workplace accidents. Utilizing a checklist can serve as a helpful reminder for staff to follow basic safety procedures when working with ladders. Pre-shift meetings and on-site inspections are effective methods for ensuring that proper ladder setup and climbing techniques are adhered to by all workers.

Additionally, it’s vital to establish a formal ladder safety program within the company to standardize safety protocols and guidelines. This program should undergo regular review and updates to address any new hazards or recommended practices.

By mastering ladder safety techniques, you can establish a safer work environment and decrease the risks associated with working at elevated heights. We are committed to assisting you in maintaining a safer workplace. For further safety-related assistance, please reach out to your local Risk Control Consultant. Click the button below to locate an agent in your area.

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