Ladder Safety: Learn How to Properly Stabilise a Ladder
For a long time now, falls have been one of the major causes of fatal injuries and even deaths in the workplace, especially in the construction industry. A majority of the falls involve ladders. As simple as they may be, most workers do not use these pieces of equipment properly and before they know it, an accident may have occurred and resulted in serious injuries.
Common issues include not securing the device properly, setting it up with the wrong angle or on a surface that’s not level and firm, using a ladder with broken or bent parts, and using a ladder without cleaning mud, grease and other debris that could make the victim slip and fall when climbing. The misuse and resulting consequences has even forced some businesses to ban the use of the equipment, especially in places where scaffolds or lifts can be used instead.
When it comes to safety ladder stability, most people think they’re protecting against the equipment falling back on them, when in reality lateral movement is the biggest hazard. To properly secure and stabilize your ladder, you’ll need to start from the bottom up.
Inspecting Your Ladder
Your first task should be to check whether the device is in proper working condition. You need to perform a quick inspection to determine whether the ladder is in the condition the manufacturers intended it to be used. Rungs should be unbroken and unbent. Any substance that could cause you to slip and fall should be cleaned. For ladders with two sections, ensure that both sections are in place. The ladder safety feet should be in place and in good condition. Remember, falls do not only occur when then the ladder itself falls, but injuries can also occur if you fall from the ladder.
Where you set your ladder is very critical. You should always ensure the base of your ladder stands on a firm, level surface. Unfortunately, some workers set up ladders on unstable areas such as mulch beds, mud puddles, and smooth surfaces such as waxed floors without the necessary safety feet to keep them from slipping and causing falls. Regardless of how important the task at hand is, you should never compromise on your safety. Do not set up the equipment if you’re not going to set it up on a firm, level surface. Some workers could decide to place stones or blocks of wood in the mud to build a base for the ladder. While this may create a firm and level surface, it won’t be stable and the ladder may still slip. You’ll also need to check what’s around the base of your ladder. The cluttered ground can be dangerous for someone approaching the equipment to climb and also one climbing down off the ladder. Ensure to remove all debris, cords, tools, materials, and anything else that could pose a tripping hazard.
After ensuring you have a firm, level, stable surface, a clear area around the base, and safety feet intact and in good condition, the next step will be to ensure the stability of the ladder at the top. Lateral movements of ladders that could result in falls normally occur while the workers are toward the top. Having a stable base is not enough. Your weight and motion could cause lateral movement and you may fall. You should secure your ladder using ladder hooks or by tying it to a stable structure up which you’re climbing, or through some other means. You may also use a ladder stabilizer that attaches to the top of the ladder and increases the area where the ladder contacts the structure, making it more stable.