Falls from portable ladders are a major source of injury in the workplace. They are usually more serious than other physical injuries in the workplace, and more costly for everyone in terms of time loss, compensation costs and human suffering.
Ladders have been around a long time, and are common to almost every home and workplace. This, and their simplicity, generates the false impression that ladder work requires no special knowledge or skills. The opposite is true. Anyone who uses a ladder should have hands-on safety training to learn about the various risks involved and the precautions necessary to prevent falling.
-Make periodic ladder inspections for structural integrity.
-Conduct quarterly inspections as a minimum. Record all inspections made.
-Remove defective ladders from service when noted during inspection. Tag it with "DANGEROUS - DO NOT USE". Do not use until ladder is repaired.
-Destroy any ladder that cannot be repaired.
1. Pitch of 75-90 degrees
2. Designed to bear a load of 200 pounds
3. 3/4 inch rung diameter
4. Rungs 16 inches wide
5. Rungs spaced no more than 12 inches apart
6. Hand or side rails extending 3 ½ feet above the landing
7. Minimum clearance of 2 ½ feet on the climbing side of ladders with 90 degree pitch and 3 feet for a 75 degree pitch
8. Clear width of 15 inches on each side of the center line of ladder
9. 7 inch clearance in back of ladder to assure adequate footing
10. Painted, if metal or appropriately treated to prevent deterioration if conditions indicate
Climbing a Ladder
Even when you're not going very high, climbing a ladder can be a bit of a balancing act. By following these tips you can climb with greater comfort and security:
Grasp the rungs of the ladder, not the side rails. The rungs are easier to hold onto in case your foot slips. Face the ladder when going up or down and when working from it. Keep the centre of your body within the side rails.
Maintain three-point contact by keeping two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand, on the ladder at all times.
Do not carry objects in your hands while on a ladder. Instead, hoist materials or attach tools to your belt.
Staying on a Ladder
Above all, don't fall! Adopt these common-sense rules:
Tie yourself off with a safety harness when working 3 m (10 ft) or more off the ground or when working with both hands.
Do not work from the top three rungs. The higher you go on a ladder, the greater the possibility that it will slip out at the base.
Wear protective footwear with slip-resistant soles and heels. Before mounting a ladder, make sure your footwear is in good condition, and wipe off the soles if necessary. Don't climb a ladder if the soles of your shoes or boots are wet, muddy or slippery.
Ensure that only one person is on a single-width ladder. A double-width ladder should have no more than one person on each side.
Don't straddle the space between a ladder and another object.
Don't overreach from a ladder; step down and move the ladder as required. You might need to take a rest break after awhile, since frequent climbing is hard work on the legs.
Keep your balance. If you're doing work that requires you to look up and reach above your head (e.g. to wash windows or paint a wall) rest frequently to avoid arm fatigue and disorientation. If you become dizzy or panicky, drape your arms over a rung and rest your head against another rung or side rail. Climb down slowly.
Other Safety Precautions
Ensure that all electrical equipment used during ladder work is in good condition and properly grounded.
Do not join two short ladders to make a longer ladder. The side rails are not strong enough to support the extra load.
Do not allow anyone to stand under a ladder.
Do not use a ladder placed in a horizontal position as a scaffold plank or runway.
Do not use a chair, barrel, box or anything else as a makeshift ladder.
If you have access to a fixed stairway or scaffold, use it instead of a portable ladder.