By Chris Sullivan, Director of Risk Management
March is National Ladder Safety Month! Ladders are used across most industries, in many cases are used daily, by employees with a wide variety of skillsets, for tasks ranging in complexity. They are a great tool but using them incorrectly can result in serious injury or death.
LADDER SAFETY BASICS
BEFORE USING A LADDER
- Inspect the ladder’s condition. Look for cracks, loose rungs, and missing parts. Only use a ladder that is in good working condition.
- Choose the right ladder for the job.
- Make sure the Duty Rating of the ladder is greater than the combined weight of the user and any tools placed on the ladder.
- For extension ladders, use the 4 to 1 Rule: Set the ladder one foot out for every four feet up to the point of support. Rungs are one afoot apart so it’s easy to calculate the angle.
- The ladder should have slip-resistant safety feet. Use a board to level the feet on softer ground if needed.
- Clear the areas around the top and the bottom of the ladder so they are free of debris.
- Read through all the ladder safety information labels. Only use the ladder for its intended purpose.
WHILE USING A LADDER
- Face the ladder when ascending or descending.
- Climb slowly and carefully; avoid sudden movements.
- Maintain at least 3 points of contact.
- Keep your balance by keeping your belt buckle between the rails.
- Use toolbelts, tow lines, hoists, manlifts, and/or an assistant to raise and lower materials. Both hands should be free to climb.
- Wear slip-resistant shoes with heavy soles and good support.
- Before climbing, ensure soles of shoes are clean and free of mud, oil, or slippery substances.
- Check for additional fall protection requirements needed for the task, especially for working on a roof or scaffolding.
- Safety glasses and/or hardhats may be required for overhead work.
WHAT NOT TO DO WITH A LADDER
- Do NOT use ladders that are damaged or not in good working condition.
- Do NOT climb with hands full of gear.
- Do NOT overreach.
- Do NOT twist your body while climbing.
- Do NOT attempt to move the ladder while standing on it.
- Do NOT use ladders as a work platform.
- Do NOT use ladders in high winds or on Icy or snow-covered surfaces.
- Do NOT store materials on ladders.
For assistance with Ladder Safety or any other safety needs for your company, employees, or clients, contact the SUNZ Insurance Risk Management Team. We are here to help!