One of the dangers of using an extension ladder is the risk of ladder slipping. Here are some tips to help you decrease that danger.
Set up your ladder at the correct angle
When you set up an extension ladder, you should set it up to be at a 75.5 degree angle. You can use the NIOSH app to check the angle. Having your ladder any steeper or flatter than that could cause the ladder to slip forward or backward.
Use the ladder cleats
The ladder cleats can add an extra level of stability to your ladder. You can put the cleats in the ground before you climb your ladder, adding an extra level of protection.
Take Advantage of Accessories
There are a few ladder accessories out there to help with stability as well. Ladder mitts can be put on the top of an extension ladder when it is leaned against a wall or building. A ladder stabilizer is another helpful accessory when a ladder is leaned. The stabilizer gets connected to the top of the ladder and situates the ladder so it is near impossible to slip.
Create a Level Base
One of the main ways you can prevent a ladder fall is by creating a level base. If the ground is uneven, use levelers to adjust the ladder, or dig out the high side to make the ground even.
Be Aware of Wet Ground
If the ground is slippery and wet, find a dry place or wait until it dries. Ladders can easily slip on slick surfaces, so the best prevention method is to just avoid the risk.
When planning ladder safety training, it helps to be familiar with the main causes of ladder accidents and injuries and then hopefully address those causes in training. To help you, I will talk about the four causes of ladder accidents.
Selecting the Wrong Type of Ladder
When choosing a ladder, choose the correct ladder and ladder size for the job. Keep the height of the task in mind. In addition, make sure you keep the weight guidelines in mind. If the ladder you’re using is rated for only 300 pounds, make sure you and your equipment don’t exceed that limit.
Using Worn or Damaged Ladders
Once a ladder is damaged or overly worn, it should be retired from service. Worn and damaged ladders are dangerous and can put the operator’s life at risk.
It should go without saying that using a ladder incorrectly is a ticking time bomb for an accident. Make sure you also use the ladder on level ground and follow all those safety guidelines we talk about regularly.
Using Overly Heavy Ladders
One thing we don’t talk about much is the risk of using heavy ladders. Often on job sites, workers have to carry heavy equipment and end up with sprains and other health issues due to the weight. As you are working, pay attention to the ladder’s weight and ask another worker to help you carry it if necessary.
These four areas are some of the most common causes of ladder injuries. Hopefully becoming familiar with them will help you find ways to avoid injury.
A man was on a ladder between the second and third stories of a building when he fell. He was in the process of getting off the ladder onto plywood when the plywood gave way, causing him to fall to the ground. Miraculously, he suffered only minimal injuries.
Luckily the accident was not as severe as it could have been, but we can still learn from him so we don’t make the same mistakes. The main lesson is to be careful when setting up and getting off your ladder. The man was fine while he was on his ladder. It was in good enough shape to use. However, the plywood the man climbed onto was not stable, causing his injury.
The transition point between the ladder and roof can be dangerous, and, in this case, it caused the man to fall three stories. Before getting off your ladder, make sure the area you are transiting to is stable and secure. Imagine getting off your ladder expecting to be on a stable structure only to fall immediately to the ground. Just thinking about it makes my heart stop.
This week, practice taking a second to make sure the landing platform, building, or whatever you are climbing onto is secure. Also train your team and encourage them to practice this safety technique as well.
I stumbled on this article about a man’s experience on a ladder. As I read, I kept thinking the article would end with the man getting injured since it seems like so many articles end that way. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the end and the man had not gotten injured. Instead, this article mainly focuses on the things he does right.
This article is a great example of when you follow the safety guidelines, accidents can be prevented.
In the article, the author goes through the entire process of using a ladder to cut down some tree limbs damaged by a storm. Here’s what he did right:
- When he realized the ladder he had chosen would be too short for the job, he exchanged it for a taller ladder.
- Before climbing the ladder, he checked to make sure it was on level ground and that it would not tip.
- He also recruited his wife to be a spotter. While a spotter/assistant is not “required,” it never hurts to have another pair of eyes.
- He was in good health while working. He was not dizzy or otherwise impaired.
- He always maintained three points of contact. He actually references this part of being safe a few times. While climbing and descending, he paid close attention to this part of being safe.
Here’s what I would suggest doing differently:
I really have just one suggestion. Safety guidelines suggest not leaning the ladder against the tree you are trimming and not using an extension ladder to trim trees. While the man did almost everything correct, I would recommend using a different type of ladder when trimming trees and not leaning the ladder up against the tree.
Other than that, I think he did a great job, which all contributes to why his ladder trimming ended in success and not injury.