Ensure proper use of ladders in workplaces with these safety rules
Published 23 Nov 2022
Ladders are great pieces of equipment. Nearly everyone has one at home or in the workplace. However, it may pose a threat to an individual’s safety if not used correctly.
According to Safe Work Australia, ladders should be used for simple access jobs for a short duration. Otherwise, an alternative can be used in place of a ladder such as scaffoldings or an elevated work platform. But if ladders are the only option, the following precautions should be taken:
Different types of ladders have different uses. Each ladder type have a different load rating. When choosing the most suitable ladder for the job, it is important to consider the weight of the person climbing the ladder plus the weight of the tools, materials, and equipment. Below are five categories of ladders with their duty rating and weight capacity:
Over time a ladder may acquire issues that may lead to it being unreliable. A competent person should be assigned to visually inspect ladders for defects periodically. Below are some defects you should look out for:
If a ladder has been identified with defects, it’s best to have it repaired or replaced.
A person using a ladder should be someone who has the capability of carrying out physical tasks. Physical capability is usually measured by one’s grip strength, walking speed, chair rising, and standing balance times. Employees should train workers to recognize ladder-related hazards to minimize accidents.
Ladders should be placed on a firm and level surface for stability. The surface should be able to support the weight of the ladder and the person using it. In any case that the ground is soft, devices such as leg levelers, anti-slip gutter guards, wide boards, or stabilizers can be used.
It is important to be mindful of the surroundings when setting up a ladder. The surrounding area should be uncluttered and free of obstructions. If a ladder needs to be set up in a driveway or passageway, barriers and signages, or a person assisting should be present.
Leaning and reaching away when in the ladder makes it unstable and puts the person in the ladder at risk of falling. To prevent falls, descend and then move the ladder.
When climbing or descending the ladder, the three points of contact should be observed for a secure handhold on the ladder. The three points of contact refers to two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand.
Always consider the load limits of the ladder in use. Carrying anything larger or heavier than what the ladder can take will make it unstable. The person in the ladder will be unable to maintain a three point of contact resulting to a fall and injury.
When using leaning ladders like an extension ladder, the position of the ladder should be angled at a ratio of 1:4. The base of the ladder being 1 meter away from the structure for every meter height of 4.
Remain facing the ladder while maintaining the three points of contact when dissenting the ladder. Do it slowly; avoiding any sudden movements.
Consider working at height and fall protection factors too to promote safety at work.
Knowing basic ladder safety is vital to protecting yourself against fatal falls and other unforeseen accidents. Using a checklist can help remind your team to follow basic safety procedures. Perform pre-start meetings and site walkthroughs to ensure that proper ladder setup and climbing methods are complied with. Above all, improve your workplace safety by making sure that all workers are going home safely.
SafetyCulture (iAuditor) is the world’s leading inspection software app which allows you to perform better ladder safety inspections, improve workplace training and identify areas for improvement. Use your mobile device to evaluate the working condition of your ladder and how it is used. Get started with these free customizable ladder safety checklists.
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