One of the interesting parts of stopconstructionfalls.com is a map that shows the fatalities from falls in construction. You can see a map from the last few years. One of the goals of our site is to reduce ladder accidents. These maps are proof that we still have our work cut out for us. Thousands of people are still getting injured in falls at the workplace.
What Can We Do?
The number one thing we can do is to continue training and to enforce safety at our own workplaces. If every business takes these steps, we can work together to reduce falls. Remember that when you are enforcing ladder safety, you aren’t being “the mean guy,” you are helping your team learn how to be safe.
One of the first steps to being safe on a ladder is choosing the right ladder for the job at hand. Here are a few tips to help you know what kind of ladder you need.
Know the Type of Ladder
The first step is to determine what type of ladder you need. Would an extension ladder work best? Or a stepladder? If you are doing something that requires the ladder be leaned against something, use an extension ladder. Don’t ever lean a stepladder against a wall and use it like an extension ladder.
Choose the Material
If you will be working anywhere electricity, make sure your ladder is made of fiberglass, since this material does not conduct electricity. If you won’t be around electricity, aluminum will work just fine. Both materials are sturdy. Aluminum does ware a little better over time, but as I said, fiberglass is needed if you are near electricity.
Choose the Size
The job you are doing will determine what size ladder you need. You want to make sure you won’t need to stand on the top rung or top cap and that the ladder is positioned so you won’t need to lean. If you need a larger ladder, don’t be afraid to get it. The right size ladder will make your job not only safer, but also easier.
What other steps are important when choosing your ladder?
As a safety officer, you know safety is important. You know what it takes to help your team be safe. You know what equipment is best, and you are willing to spend a little bit more if it means people from your team will return home safely. You provide safety training and help enforce safety guidelines. You are the best safety officer you can be. But you can’t be everywhere at once to enforce safety. Are the site supervisors as passionate about safety as you are? Here are a couple of tips for helping you train your safety officers on the importance of safety.
Pull at the Heat Strings
There are plenty of videos that tell stories of real people who were affected by a ladder accident. Here are a couple of good ones (add links).
If you have had a workplace injury, don’t be afraid to include that story. When there is an element to training, it can sometimes help convince and stress the importance of the topic to the audience.
Show the Difference
To get them on board, show the site supervisors the difference between quality equipment and less expensive equipment. Show the weight ratings and how the various equipment holds up over time. Doing this will illustrate why you have chosen the superior equipment.
Explain the Guidelines
You will need the site supervisors to help you enforce the OSHA guidelines. In order to do that, they need to also know the guidelines. Take some time to teach the site supervisors about OSHA’s guidelines, and why some of those guidelines are in place.
If you can get site supervisors to understand the importance of ladder (and other) safety, it will be much easier to keep your people safe.
This week, I was looking on StopConstructionFalls.com, and I found a great video. Here’s the link to it:
One of the best parts from the video gives tips for making sure an extension ladder is at the correct angle, 75.5 degrees. We often talk about the correct angle for an extension ladder, but how do we tell if we have reached that angle? According to the video, the best way to tell when you’ve reached that angle is to set the base of the ladder one foot from the wall for every four feet in height. Put your toes at the ladder base and put your hands straight out. Your hands should just barely reach the ladder.
The video also gives good tips such as not carrying loads onto the ladder and maintaining three points of contact. In addition, the video reminds users to only have one person on the ladder at once. There are also a lot of other tips, but you’ll have to watch for yourself!
My favorite quote from the video is said towards the end. The narrator says, “We should take as much time in getting a job done safely as in getting a job well done.” How true is this? Taking the time to do a job safely is as important, if not more important, as doing the job well. If you don’t do a job well, you will have to redo it. If you don’t do a job safely, you will end up with an injury and the job taking more time, or, in the worst cases, not being able to finish the job at all.
Recently, I ran across an article about a farmer who fell from height and ended up passing away from his injuries.
At the end of the article, the author suggests a few things for preventing injuries like this one.
Here are some of her tips:
-Use safe systems when working at heights.
-Proper roofing ladder should always be used.
-Ladders used should be in good condition, placed at the right angle and securely tied.
-Be aware of fragile roof lights/panels.
-Erect a suitable barrier to prevent falls while carrying out extensive work on roofs.
-Consider using competent construction contractors for all work at height.
Here are a couple safety tips I would add:
-Use the right ladder for the job
-Inspect your ladder
-Never stand on the top rung or top cap of a stepladder or top three rungs of an extension ladder.
-Always inspect your ladder before using it.
It’s always sad when I read these types of articles, but, hopefully, we can all work together to help others be safer when using ladders.