Ladders are tools. Many of the basic safety rules that apply to most tools also apply to the safe use of a ladder:
The Three Point-of-Contact Climb
Factors contributing to falls from ladders include haste, sudden movement, lack of attention, the condition of the ladder (worn or damaged), the user's age or physical condition, or both, and the user's footwear.
When climbing a ladder, it is safest to utilize Three Points-of-Contact because it minimizes the chances of slipping and falling from the ladder. At all times during ascent, descent, and working, the climber must face the ladder and have two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand in contact with the ladder steps, rungs and/or side rails. In this way, the climber is not likely to become unstable in the event one limb slips during the climb. It is important to note that the climber must not carry any objects in either hand that can interfere with a firm grip on the ladder. Otherwise, Three Points-of-Contact with the ladder cannot be adequately maintained and the chance of falling is increased in the event a hand or foot slip occurs.
Article collected from: http://www.americanladderinstitute.org/?page=BasicLadderSafety
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Ladder Injury Statistics
A Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report on ladder safety showed some startling statistics concerning the frequency and severity of ladder-related accidents in the United States. Every year thousands of people are injured and hundreds are killed. By understanding the causes of ladder accidents the vast majority could be prevented.
- More than 90,000 people receive emergency room treatment from ladder-related injuries every year
- Elevated falls account for almost 700 occupational deaths annually
- These deaths account for 15% of all occupational deaths
- OSHA believes 100% of all ladder accidents could be prevented if proper attention to equipment and climber training were provided
- Over the last 10 years the amount of ladder-related injuries has increased 50%
- According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of all ladder-related accidents were due to individuals carrying items as they climbed
- The most common type of ladder-related injury, with 32%, is fractures
- 57 percent of fall victims in the study were holding objects with one or both hands while climbing or descending the ladder;
- 30 percent had wet, greasy, or oily shoes;
- 53 percent of straight ladders had not been secured or braced at the bottom, and 61 percent had not been secured at the top;
- 66 percent of accident victims had never been trained in how to inspect ladders for defects before using them; and
- 73 percent had not been provided with or consulted written instructions on the safe use of ladders.
When working on a ladder, remember these do’s and don’ts:
- Do keep one hand on a side rail at all times.
- Do keep your body centered on the ladder. A good rule of thumb is to keep your belt buckle between the rails.
- Do keep your body straight and as close to the ladder as possible.
- Domove carefully and slowly when working on a ladder.
- Don’t lean too far in either direction. Overreaching is a major cause of ladder accidents.
- Don’t reach too far overhead either. Use a taller ladder to reach higher, if necessary.
- Don’t try to reposition the ladder while you’re standing on it. Get down and move it.
4 Main Types of Ladder Accidents
Ladder accidents are extremely common even though they are entirely preventable. Ladder accidents can come from a wide variety of issues but the following four causes account for the vast majority. If these simple loss prevention tips for each cause are followed, ladder accidents could almost be eliminated.
1. Selecting the Wrong Type of Ladder
Like most other jobs, choosing the right tool can make all 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 and cause the user to fall or become injured.
Another consideration when selecting the appropriate ladder for a job is the necessary height of the ladder. Many injuries occur due to ladders being too short for a specific task, and instead of selecting a new ladder for the job, workers will place the ladder on something to extend its reach or will stand on the top rung to gain the necessary height. Both scenarios are extremely dangerous and can result in serious injuries.
2. Using Worn or Damaged Ladder
Another common contributing factor to ladder accidents is the use of old, worn, or damaged ladders. 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. Damaged ladders are extremely dangerous as they can easily break while being used and cause serious injuries.
To protect yourself from damaged or broken ladders, make sure to thoroughly inspect each ladder before using it. If any damage is found, do not use the ladder until it has been safely repaired to the manufacturer’s specifications or it has been replaced.
3. Incorrect Use of Ladders
Human error is by far the leading cause of ladder accidents. Never use a ladder in any other way than what the manufacturer intended it to be used for. Also, do not lengthen or alter a ladder in any way.
While using a ladder 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.
4. Incorrect 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. If the ladder can not 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.
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