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Ladder Safety

Jan 30, 2008
Commercial Ladder Safety! The Safe Use Of Ladders & Step-Ladders.

Ladders and step ladders on average account for 14 deaths and over 1000 serious injuries to workers each year. Many of these injuries are caused by improper or faulty use of ladders and associated equipment.

Ladder Safety Tips

1. Know when to use a ladder; decide how to go about selecting the right sort of ladder for the particular job; understand how to use it; know how to look after it; and take sensible safety precautions.

2. Experts believe mishandling of ladders at work can be partly explained by the way they are used in the home. As with all work equipment, users need sufficient information and training to be able to use ladders and stepladders safely. Adequate supervision is needed so that safe ladder practices continue to be used.

3. Avoid work at height where possible; then to prevent falls from height; and, failing that, to reduce the consequences of a fall.

4. Where work at height is necessary you need to justify whether a ladder or step ladder is the most suitable access equipment compared to other access equipment options. You do this by using risk assessment and the hierarchy of controls.

5. When considering whether it could be appropriate to use a ladder or step-ladder, you need to consider the following factors.

6. Only use a ladder or stepladder: in one position for a maximum of 30 minutes.

7. Do not overload a step ladder or ladder - the person and anything they are taking up should not surpass the highest load stated on the ladder

8. Overreach - keep your belt buckle inside the stiles and both feet on the same rung throughout work being done.

9. When working on stepladders you should avoid work that imposes a side loading, such as side-on drilling through solid materials (e.g. bricks or concrete), by having the steps facing the work activity. Where side-on loadings cannot be avoided you should prevent the steps from tipping over, for example by tying the steps to a suitable point. Otherwise a more suitable type of access equipment should be used.

10. Make sure the ladder is a suitable size for the work

11. Only use a ladder or stepladder on firm ground or spread the load on level ground (e.g. use a board)

12. Consider tying a stepladder where possible and advantageous to the task (e.g. side-on working or where two free hands are needed).

13. On a ladder or stepladder: don't work within 6 m horizontally of any overhead power lines, unless the line owner has made them dead or protected with temporary insulation.

14. You should only use ladders or step ladders: here they will not be struck by vehicles, by protecting them with suitable barriers for cones.

15. Establish the ladder or stepladder is in a safe condition before using it.

16. Don't use the top two steps of a stepladder, unless a suitable handrail is available on the step ladder.

17. Do not use ladders in strong or gusting winds

18. You should also avoid holding items when climbing (for example by using tool belts): on a ladder where you must carry something you must have one free hand to grip the ladder; on a stepladder where you cannot maintain a handhold (e.g. putting a box on a shelf), the use of a stepladder will have to be justified by taking into account:

a. The height of the task

b. Safe handhold still being available on the stepladder;

c. Whether it is light work

d. Whether it avoids side loading

e. Whether it avoids overreaching.

f. Whether the user's feet are fully supported.

g. Whether you can tie the stepladder.

h. Consider tying a stepladder where possible and advantageous to the task (e.g. side-on working or where two free hands are needed).

Buying Safe Ladders

When buying a new ladder, think about the worst type of surface conditions

You come across (e.g. smooth, wet floor tiles). Manufacturers should be able to

Indicate the types of surfaces their products are intended to be used on when they are unsecured (untied). Only buy the ladder that suppliers can confirm will be stable enough to be used unsecured in your worse-case scenario, otherwise you will need to take additional measures to secure.
About the Author
Easyrack.org for more information on material handling equipment or ladder safety please visit us.
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