Ladders Safety Guidelines
Ladders are very commonly used in the workplace and this makes them be taken for granted by almost all users.
It is quite unfortunate that majority of workplace incidences and accidents related to ladders occur mainly because users do not observe standard disciplines for handling hazards and consequently do not follow the required workplace safety precautions.
What is most encouraging is that use of ladders can be made much safer if a few basic workplace safety principles are observed.
The most important thing is to ensure we are using ladders for the only purpose that they are intended- for carrying out routine duties or as a means of access.
Ladders should not be used horizontally as a work platform; this is because they are not designed for it. Specialized equipment’s like scaffolding or elevated platforms are the most appropriate if the task requires extended activity.
Before using any ladder, it is advisable to perform a pre-check to ensure it is safe to use. Conducting a pre-check or inspection provides a great opportunity to identify any defects that need to be rectified to avoid causing an accident.
Whenever you are using a ladder, it is important to consider these guidelines in order to ensure our workplaces are safe and more productive.
A thorough inspection should be carried out to pick up any defects and rectify them or change the ladder altogether; the bottom line is to make sure the ladder is in good working condition.
Any external hazards should be put in mind and avoided at all costs. These include uneven surfaces, weather conditions and electric equipment among others.
Always use the right ladder for the right job, do not overload the ladder and avoid using other objects like chairs or desks when reaching up for something.
It is imperative for the user to consider these questions. What is the length of the duration that I will be working on the ladder? Will I be holding a light or heavy items while on the ladder?
Consequently, one should know that the high the ladder the lower the stability. Such cases would require the use of specialized ladders like the stepladder, or the platform step queen ladder (one with handrail barricades).
Don’t be a victim: Remember these 9 best ladder safety tips:
- Select the correct ladder. Why waver on the top rung of a stepladder when you can use an extension ladder? Never use a metal ladder if there is any chance of contacting electricity.
- Never assume a ladder is safe. Check it for unsafe footing, broken steps, bent legs, bent supports, cracks, worn or slippery step treads, and worn or missing rubber feet. Don’t use it if there’s a problem.
- Set the ladder up on flooring that is dry, even and clear of obstacles. Never lean the ladder against anything unstable (such as a stack of boxes) or place it in front of an unguarded or unlocked door.
- Follow the belt buckle rule when using a stepladder, making sure your belt buckle goes no higher than the top step of the ladder. Climb the ladder only after ensuring the frame is locked securely in place.
- Follow the four-to-one rule when setting up an extension ladder. Place the ladder with its base one foot away from the wall for every four feet in height. Secure the ladder to a stable object at the top and then lock the extension securely in place. Never stand on the top two steps of an extension ladder.
- Ask a spotter to hold the base of the ladder while you climb and be especially careful when climbing a ladder on a windy day. Remember to fasten the top of the ladder securely to prevent it from tipping.
- Ascend and descend the ladder facing the rungs with both hands on the edges. Hoist tools and materials only after you have reached the top of the ladder.
- Take precautions to prevent a fall. Use both hands when climbing and lock a leg around a rung when you need to have one hand free. Never climb onto a ladder that’s already supporting one person
- It is also advisable to follow manufacturer’s user instructions if available.
DO NOT DO THIS.
Ladders Do and Don’t
Do make sure you carry out a risk assessment before using any ladder
Do make sure a ladder is the correct piece of equipment for the job no matter how short the job is
Do make sure you are using the right classification of ladder
Do make sure you are wearing the correct footwear
Do make sure you are wearing a helmet where applicable
Do make sure the ladder is safe and in good condition before using
Do make sure it has two serviceable non-slip fleet
Do make sure the rungs are clean and protected
Do make sure it’s on a firm and level base
Do make sure the ladder is at the right height for the job
Do make sure it’s at the right angle for the job (70 – 75 degrees)
Do make sure you use a firm grip and three points of contact
Don’t work near electrical or overhead hazards or use conductive ladder near energized circuits.
Don’t work in poor weather conditions
Don’t present a hazard to traffic or passers by
Don’t overload yourself with tools and materials
Don’t overreach to complete the task
Don’t stand on the top three rungs
Most of the dos and don’ts that apply to ladders also apply to stepladders. In addition:
Do make sure you work facing forwards
Do make sure all tools are secure
Don’t work facing sideways
Don’t stand on the top handrail
The above list is for guidance only and is not thorough.