Safe Use of Ladders

During construction work, particularly housing construction projects and DIY projects or renovations ladders are a common fixture and provide a valuable service to various tradespeople within the construction industry, from roofers to painters they all rely on ladders to do their job.

Unfortunately ladders are also a common cause of injury and death because of falls. Part of the reason for this is because ladders are so common that workers can become complacent about them, ignoring safety because they think they are familiar with ladders enough to do so. If this were true we wouldn’t see so many people falling off ladders as we do.

Most of the ladder injuries that occur include cuts, bruises and fractured bones and hundreds even die every year from these injuries. Sadly most of these injuries and fatalities could have been avoided if the proper safety measures were followed.

Before even beginning work ensure that the correct ladder is used. The ladder chosen needs to be the appropriate length for the height you intend on reaching for work. Stick to the weight and load capacity of the ladder. There are various types of ladders on the market, industry heavy, commercial medium industrial extra heavy etc. – chose the correct one.

Before beginning work inspect the ladder and never use one that is damaged, broken or bent. If the ladder is defective, do not attempt any temporary repairs of the ladder in order to use it because the last thing you want is the repair to fail while you are undertaking work from metres above ground level. Also make sure that the ladder you use is free of any grease, oil, mud, water or any other slippery chemicals.

When moving the ladder around the site carry it parallel to the ground. For larger ladders don’t attempt to carry it alone, get help moving the long or larger ladders.

Another important consideration before beginning work is that ladders will not be obstructed by electrical wires, tree branches or any other obstructions once it is extended.

To ensure that the ladder is stable, place the feet of the ladder on firm, even ground. Ground instability can cause the ladder to capsize and the worker to be seriously injured when he/she falls.

Workers that are tasked with using ladders on construction sites should be trained in its use prior to doing so. Also before climbing the ladder ensure that the locks are secured and the bottom and top of the ladder rails are on firm surfaces. Never place a ladder in front of an opening such as a doorway.

Also make sure that the soles of your shoes aren’t slippery and are clean. Safety boots are best when working on construction sites and as a rule workers need to be provided with these by their employers. Always ensure that your shoelaces are securely tied.

Workers climbing a ladder should face the ladder and keep their hands, feet and body in the centre of the rails. They should always climb using both hands, in other words keep both hands on the ladder when climbing it. Workers should never stand on the top rung of a ladder.

Check out more safety related articles for construction workers

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