Useful Tips for Ladder Safety
A third of all reported falls in the UK involve either ladders or stepladders with these everyday pieces of equipment accounting for 14 deaths and 1,200 major injuries to workers every year. Many of the falls are a result of inappropriate or incorrect use of ladders and could have been prevented. Although there is legislation in place to ensure safety – Work at Height 2005 (WAHR) and providing the correct ladders for the task at hand is the responsibility of the employer, it is also the responsibility of the ladder user to ensure that he/she follows the correct procedures when using ladders. Here are some handy ladder safety tips that will help to protect you if you use ladders at work (whether it’s on a routine daily basis or an intermittent basis).
· Make sure your ladder is in good condition and free of any defects. Make sure that the ladder has feet to grip the surface on which it stands (missing feet mean that the ladder is not fit for working on).
· Make sure the ladder rests on firm ground (you can use a board under the ladder to spread the load if necessary).
· Make sure your ladder is placed safely where it will not be knocked by doors, windows, etc. If you do have to set up a ladder near a door, then you’ll need a colleague to stand watch to prevent accidents.
· Don’t overreach – this means keeping your belt buckle (navel area) inside the stiles of the ladder at all times and keep both feet on the same rung while performing any task.
· Don’t overload the ladder – this means that your weight combined with the weight of any tools/equipment you carry must not exceed the highest load stated on the ladder
· Avoid holding items when climbing a ladder – if you must carry tools or equipment; make sure you always have one hand free to grip the ladder.
· Make sure the surface on which the ladder rests is clean (no oil, moss, leaf litter, etc). Make sure that there is no loose material such as sand or packaging so that the ladder feet can grip the surface properly.
· Don’t work within 6 meters horizontally of any overhead power lines unless they have been protected with temporary insulation.
· With straight ladders, don’t use the top three rungs and on step ladders don’t stand on the cap or the top two rungs.
· Make sure you wear sensible, robust footwear (safety shoes/boots or trainers) – your shoes should be in good condition and you need to make sure your laces are not dangling. Shoes/boots should also be relatively clean and free of mud or any slippery substances.
· Make sure that your ladder is correctly and safely secured if appropriate (make sure you know how to tie ladders properly).
· If you’re using a ladder outdoors, then the weather will need to be suitable. Don’t use any type of ladder in strong wind.
Make sure that you’re fit and healthy – ladders should not be used if you have certain medical conditions or under the influence of alcohol or any other drugs.