Safety often gets presented as a grand notion. It’s easier to talk about that way. Your PR staff will trumpet your commitment to safety. Your budget will include funds for safety training and equipment upgrades. Your HR department will outline everyone’s safety responsibility.
But safety comes about as a day-to-day commitment. It’s a matter of doing seemingly simple tasks in a way that makes sure that no one gets hurt.
And nothing is more seemingly simple than using a ladder. We’ve all operated one, cleaning gutters or hanging Christmas lights. However, falls represent one of the main causes of workplace injuries, with improper ladder usage being the main culprit.
With that in mind, here are some simple tips for safe handling of a ladder:
Double Check the Ladder
The first rule of almost any task: make sure your equipment is in proper working order. A ladder may seem too simple to qualify as “equipment,” but still double check it before use. Doing so can avoid a lot of problems.
A loose rung or a wobbly base can lead to dangerous situations. Also, double check that the anti-slip pads haven’t worn down and will hold the ladder securely in place.
Place the Ladder Correctly
Remember the 4-to-1 rule for placing a ladder: for every four feet of height, the ladder base should be one foot away from the wall. Trying to climb too steep an incline and your position on the ladder could become precarious.
Also, make sure the ladder is placed on a firm, level ground. An uneven base can cause it to tip over, or force you to lose your footing once you’ve started your climb.
Take Your Time
Don’t rush up a ladder. For both the climb and the descent, take one rung at a time.
Meanwhile, don’t try to carry too much. Excess weight can lead to imbalances or can cause you to lose your handle. Heavy objects also become a danger for people below, if you were to drop them.
Maintain Three Points of Contact
Understatement time: keeping hold of the ladder is a key component to safe usage. The central rule to ensure this boils down to maintaining three points of contact. That means three of your four extremities (hands and feet) should be touching the ladder at all times.
So, two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand. Only break this rule when you’re leaving the ladder.
Avoid the Top Steps
Don’t stand or sit on the top rung of a ladder. The higher you go, the more precarious the situation becomes. Keeping your weight away from the top of the ladder helps keep everything in balance.
What’s more, don’t even approach the top. Most instructions warn against climbing past the third rung to the top.
Have a Spotter
Safety is a team effort. There are situations too dangerous for a single person to handle on their own. When necessary, include a second person to help keep the ladder steady.
Everyone has to be on the same page to ensure the safest possible workplace. That means companies committed to safety employing conscientious, well-trained workers. LaborMax, an industry-leading staffing agency, brings the two together.
Ready to Staff Up?
Contact LaborMax today to learn more about how you can maximize your workplace’s safety situation.