Ladders are extremely common on construction sites. Unfortunately, they are responsible for numerous injuries. To avoid workplace accidents and injuries, construction workers should receive training on how to properly and safely use a ladder. Climbing up and down a ladder might seem like a simple task, but it isn’t, especially not in a hazardous environment such as a construction site.
Whether you are thinking about working as a construction worker or simply curious, here are some vital ladder safety tips for construction workers:
Make sure you are properly trained
Employers should provide ladder safety training to all their employees. This working at heights training should cover ladder hazards, safe handling and placement of ladders, fall protection systems, and more.
Ladder safety training aims to make construction sites safer and to prevent accidents. If, as a construction worker, you have never been trained on how to use ladders safely, you should speak with your boss.
Decide if a ladder is really the best choice
Before using a ladder, you should always take a moment to decide whether a ladder is your best option. Depending on the location you are trying to access and the type of work to be done, maybe it would be better to use a ramp or erect scaffolding.
Keep in mind that just because you can reach a location with a ladder doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do it. If installing a ladder and climbing on it doesn’t seem safe, consider an alternative.
Always use the right ladder for the job
If you decide that it’s safe to use a ladder, you still have to make sure you are using the right one. The ladder you choose should be tall enough to reach the work area and extend over it. Since ladders don’t all have the same load capacity, you should always consider your weight plus the weight of the tools and equipment you will bring with you.
Of course, you should never use a metal ladder near electrical equipment. A fibreglass ladder would be a better option since it doesn’t conduct electricity. Before climbing up a ladder, you should inspect it to make sure it’s not damaged. Any ladder that needs to be repaired or replaced should be put aside immediately.
Don’t try to tie two ladders together
If your ladder isn’t tall enough to reach the place you need to reach, don’t try to tie another ladder to it to create a longer one. Look for a ladder of the right height, and if you can’t get one, look for a safer way to achieve your goal.
Install the ladder properly
Before climbing up a ladder, you need to install it properly. First, you should always place your ladder on an even surface. Setting it on top of another object is not a good idea. A ladder that is not self-supporting should be placed at the right angle against a wall or support. For every four feet of working length, the ladder’s base should be one foot away from the support.
It should extend at least three feet over the work area, and you should secure it at the base and the top if possible.
Maintain three points of contact while you climb
When you climb up or down a ladder, you should always maintain three points of contact with it. Your two hands and one of your feet, or your two feet and one of your hands, should touch the ladder at all times while you are climbing.
This means you shouldn’t carry tools or equipment in your hands while moving up or down your ladder. If you can’t keep them in a tool belt, you should tie them to a rope and haul them up when you are done moving.
Never lean away from a ladder
You should never lean away from a ladder or overextend your arms in any direction. You should also avoid standing sideways on the ladder rungs, or facing away from it, as it can make you lose your balance.
Don’t stand on the top of a ladder
You should not stand on the top of a stepladder unless its label mentions that you can safely do it.
You should also avoid standing on the top rung of a single ladder. If you need to stand on the top rung to reach your work area, it’s because your ladder isn’t high enough. Ideally, you should aim to stand on the fourth rung from the top.
Never try to reposition a ladder while you are on it
Finally, remember that you should never try to reposition a ladder while you are standing on it. Even if you only need to move it a few inches to your left, for example, you should take the time to climb down, move your ladder, and climb back up.
Trying to shuffle your ladder while you are on it is faster, but it’s also a lot riskier than taking the time to move it properly.