Now that we’ve gone over some of the general rules and regulations for heightened surfaces, we can dive into the more nuanced necessities for keeping employees safe from other falls around the workplace.
Falls from ladders, as you could imagine, account for many workplace injuries. Things like slippery surfaces, improper placement, and (unfortunately) defective equipment have caused serious injuries and death among industrial work sites. Here are some tips and standards for the work site that can prevent the worst cases.
- Slipping hazards like oil, grease, and even water can be extremely dangerous when employees are working on ladders. Employees should be aware of any slippery materials on any rung of the ladder and should remove them (and maintain their dryness) by any means.
- It’s just as important to assure that the floor is free of any slippery materials. Those ladders with slip-resistant feet are always a good bet, but they don’t mitigate the risk completely. If at all possible, the slipping hazard should be removed as completely as possible and ladders should be properly tied or lashed whenever necessary.
- There is a right way and a wrong way to use a ladder, yet it’s so common to see workers improperly working with ladders. It’s no surprise that these improper uses so commonly end in injury. First and foremost, the ladder should always be held by at least one hand. In order to cut time, many workers sometimes carry materials in both hands while trying to remain balanced. Something as simple as making two trips can save lives.
- When climbing the ladder, it’s imperative that employees face forward. Climbing down ladders like stairs is one of the easiest ways to slip and can cause devastating injuries. Although it’s commonly denoted on the top shelf of a ladder, some workers still use it to get a bit more reach. Anyone who sees this should be quick in acting to get them off. With no support on that top shelf, it’s nearly impossible to prevent a fall once it starts.
- If an area is only accessible by ladder and 25 or more employees are set to work in that area, double-cleated ladders (or two or more ladders) should be provided for two-way traffic to and from the site.
- When the ladder in in position, every part (rungs, feet, and steps) must be spaced evenly and inspected to assure sturdiness. Inspection also includes checking surfaces for sharp points that may cause clothing snags or cuts and lacerations.
- Do not tie ladders together in order to create longer ladders unless the ladders are specifically built for that usage.
Though these are just a few examples of safety precautions you can take around ladders, there’s plenty more to digest. If you want a more in-depth primer after our refresher, you can to read up Ladder and Stairway stands standards straight from OSHA.