There seems to be a lot of discussion in the field about ladder safety and major concerns of working at any height. Ladders have always had a bad rap leading the industry with an astronomical injury rate each year.
There are many postings and organizations that show that about 165,000+ Americans require medical treatment for ladder-related injuries each year. Although the study shows that 77% of the injured are male it also shows that 97 % of the injuries took place at home. Does this mean we should be taking them off the job sites?
We should all take injuries, near misses and death very serious and yes the risk of serious injury in a fall increases, of course, as the height off the ground increases. There are over 20k deaths each year due to ladder falls but again those statistics again prove that a very high percentage of those deaths are again at home.
So is the issue the ladders or is it being complacent at home or having the wrong tools to get the job done at home the problem?
Below I will go through some basic ladder safety procedures as well as recommend other products that are currently available for purchase in lieu of a ladder.
Are you working with the Wrong Type of Ladder?
Like most other jobs, choosing the right tool can make all of the difference when it comes to safety and this is the same for ladders. One thing to consider when selecting an appropriate ladder is the ladder’s weight capacity. Each ladder is designed to support a maximum weight limit and if the climber exceeds that limit the ladder could break causing you to be part of the statistic above!!
Ladder heights is a big issue. We have seen it many times and I’m sure some may be guilty of this as well. Many injuries occur due to ladders being too short for a specific task, and instead of choosing a new ladder for the job you stand on the top rung or even worst prop it up with other things in the room.
Old and Damaged Ladders
If your using your daddy’s ladder I’m going to guess that it has gotten its use so time to invest! Like everything else, ladders have a shelf life; after a couple of years the stress of being climbed up and down on causes ladders to break down. If you come across a damaged ladder don’t take the chance of being injured. Inspect the ladder before using it and if it is salvageable by following the manufactures recommendations great, if not cut the ladder straight down the middle before of disposal so it ensures nobody pulling the ladder out of the garbage and using it.
How to use a Ladder
Never use a ladder in any other way than what the manufacturer intended it to be used for. Human error is by far the leading cause of ladder accidents. You know in your head it’s a bad idea if you lengthen or alter a ladder in any way, so why do it!
Always maintain 3 points of contact with the ladder to ensure stability. Also, never attempt to reach for something while on the ladder, it is much safer to get off the ladder, move it, and then climb back up.
Placement of Ladders
Make sure that when positioning a ladder the ground you place it on is level and firm. Ladders should never be placed in front of a door that is not locked, blocked, or guarded.
A good practice to ensure a ladder is secure is to always have a helper support the base while a ladder is being used. (I know I feel better with that) If the ladder cannot be held by someone else make sure it has an appropriate foot to prevent it from slipping. The feet of the ladder can be staked if you are using a ladder outside and no one is available to support the feet of the ladder.
Here are a few alternatives when you cannot use a ladder. This is not all that is out in the markets but a few options
Step Stools make for a great sturdy platform when you need to get up just a little bit.
Rolling ladders are a great way to feel secure when your up high. These ladders are able to roll when you are not on them fairly easy and create a good footing once weight is applied.
The step like feeling makes working on it very easy.
Flat top platform ladders are a great new thing we are seeing more of. These sturdy ladders make standing on the top step a breeze. the extended portion of the ladder works as a handrail.
We use these ladders here and I’m a big fan of them.
Bench style platforms are great for certain projects that are not to high up and when moving around is a necessity.
Lift Pods are becoming more popular. These pods are easy to move
around and make accessing high area’s a breeze.
Man lifts have always been around, but now becoming lighter and cheaper.
These neat pods are very sturdy but not as practical as the rest. These pods are perfect for an application that allows you to do tedious work at the same location over and over.
The forgotten Baker Scaffold! this thing has been around for years and is under estimated!. it goes up and down in a breeze and is easily stored.