Step Right Up To Ladder Safety
Contributed by SafetySmart
At some point in your life you have probably used a step ladder to change a light bulb, paint a wall or reach boxes stacked on a shelf. They are so common we hardly think about the way we use them. But, every year many people die from ladder falls.
The following safety hints can help prevent ladder accidents:
- Choose the right ladder for the job. Designed for many different uses, step ladders come in various lengths. They may be made of wood, aluminum or reinforced fiberglass. By knowing the strength and weight rating for your ladder you can choose the right one for your task. Metal ladders or wire-reinforced wood ladders should never be used near an electrical power source.
- Always inspect ladders before using, looking carefully at all parts. Check the rungs and siderails for broken, missing, loose or greasy parts. Ensure the locking spreaders are in good condition. Then, check the feet to make sure they are sturdy and have clean non-slip soles.
- Look out for defects that can be a safety hazard. Avoid using painted ladders because cracks and splits may be hidden under the paint. Look for twists or distortions on aluminum ladders. Report any defects to your supervisor and choose another ladder for your task.
- Place the step ladder on a solid, flat surface. Don’t lean it against a wall or place on top of boxes, barrels or other unstable foundations. Always position your ladder within easy reach of your work.
- Open it fully, lock the spreaders and move the work shelf into place. And remember to lock the door, block the traffic area and place warning signs if you will be working in a doorway.
- Face the ladder and keep both hands free to climb by carrying tools in a tool belt or placing them in a bucket which can be hoisted up after you climb. Stop two steps down from the top for better stability.
- Prevent tipping by working smoothly, avoiding vigorous movements. Never over-reach.
- Reduce your chances of an accident by staying alert. Don’t use a ladder if you are feeling ill or under the influence of medications or alcohol.
- Avoid outside ladder work on wet and stormy days. Wind and slippery surfaces cause many ladder accidents.
- Allow only one person at a time on a ladder for everyone’s safety.
- Keep wooden ladders in good condition. Use two coats of a clear wood preservative such as shellac, varnish or linseed oil instead of paint.
- Oil the spreaders regularly to keep the mechanism working smoothly.
- Always store your ladders in a clean area away from heat or dampness.
- At home, store the ladder where small children can not play on it.
Whether using a step ladder on the job or at home, practice safe procedures. Don’t become a ladder statistic.