Fall Protection - Ladder Safety at Height
Ladders are such a basic part of a work environment that we take them for granted. Ladder safety at height often gets little to no consideration. Yet, ladders account for an estimated 40% of fall from height injuries investigated by the Health & Safety executives in workplaces throughout the UK.
With the DIY boom, figures show that almost 50,000 people a year also attend hospital emergency departments following a ladder accident in or around the home.
Fall protection and ladder safety at height shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some simple protection measures can help prevent accidents and potentially save your life.
1. Secure the ladder with ladder grips
If you are using a mobile ladder, make sure to secure it with ladder grips before climbing. This simple system can increase the stability of the ladder by up to 350% simply by securing its top rather than its feet. For enhanced safety, you can also equip the feet with slip-resistant pads.
2. Always use three points of contact when climbing the ladder
Climbing a ladder is so intuitive that we rarely put much thought into it. However, it is essential to maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times as you’re climbing. This means that either one hand and two feet or one foot and two hands must be always in contact with the equipment. It is acceptable to use two points of contact – which must be your feet – only after you’ve reached the top.
3. Never carry heavy loads up the ladder
In an attempt to carry out your duties faster, it may be tempting to lift heavy loads up the ladder. This practice is dangerous, though. A heavy load can destabilise you. And there is a short distance between losing your balance and falling off. To prevent injuries, climb the ladder first, then use a pulley system to lift any items you might need.
4. Invest in ladder corner stabilisers
Construction works, including building, cladding, and exterior painting may involve placing the ladder in corners. Needless to say, ladder stability is precarious in such a spot; luckily, a ladder corner stabiliser enhances the ladder’s stability. Such safety systems may also be employed for securing the ladder on flat, round, or multi-dimensional construction surfaces.
5. Equip the ladder with a wire or rail-based safety system
When working at heights, such as climbing fixed ladders on poles or towers, using a supplementary fall protection system is essential. Two popular choices are wire-based and rail-based systems. Wire safety systems typically follow the contour of the structure and arrest the fall, minimising both the fall distance and associated impact load. The rail systems attach to an existing ladder and utilize a guided fall arrest carriage designed to lock into closely spaced notches and arrest the fall. Both systems can be life-saviours in emergency situations.
Whether you work on a mobile or fixed access ladder, failure in adopting fall protection measures and not respecting ladder safety rules could end up in severe injuries; or it may even cost your life. To stay on the safe side, all it takes is to follow the above tips to protect yourself from falls either at home or in a workplace.