People have a fear of climbing ladders. According to an omnibus Internet study of 1000 adults, climbing 25 feet high on an extension ladder causes more anxiety than cutting with a sharp knife, using a chainsaw, working with electricity, public speaking, asking for a raise, talking to children about human sexuality, or getting pulled over by the police.
So, why does climbing a ladder cause so much anxiety? The truth is that every single time someone climbs a ladder, there is a risk involved. What can be done to help eliminate the risk and cut down and the fear of climbing ladders?
Overcome the Fear
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Training is crucial in helping people not only feel comfortable when climbing ladders, but also knowing how to climb them safety. The basics remain the same – maintain three points of contact, stay off the top cap on stepladders, follow the three foot rule with extension ladders, and always make sure your ladder is leaning at the proper angle. By being properly trained on correct ladder use, your employees can be fully prepared for what to keep in mind when climbing ladders. They will also most likely feel more comfortable on the ladders, overcoming their fear.
While you are training employees on ladder use, make sure you let them know they will be held accountable if they do not follow the safety guidelines. Then, keep your word. Make sure you talk to an employee when he or she violated safety guidelines and then take the appropriate disciplinary action.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like most things, the more people climb ladders, the more they will be comfortable on the ladder. This comfort can be good, but it can also be risky because there is a chance they will get sloppier as they get more comfortable. Make sure you continue training as they become more used to using the ladder to make sure they don’t develop bad habits.
Preventing ladder accidents on the freeway sounds simple, but, in reality, sometimes ladders do end up in the road, causing some traffic safety concerns. A situation like that happened recently in Plymouth, England. According to the news report, a ladder left on the freeway resulted in a collision between four vehicles and long delays for drivers. Investigators did not know exactly how the ladder got in the road; they just knew the damage the ladder caused. The ladder undoubtedly fell from a traveling vehicle.
Preventing Ladders on the Freeway
While nobody was injured from the misplaced ladder, people could have been. When transporting ladders, it is important to secure it properly. One way you can secure the ladder is by putting them on a ladder rack on top of the vehicle. Make sure you locate the ladder’s center of gravity. Center the ladder on the ladder rack based on that point. Then, use ratchet tie downs to secure the ladder.
Secure the ladder to Your Vehicle
If you are driving a pickup truck instead of using a ladder rack, make sure everything is secured properly. In reality, sometimes the wind can catch items in the truck bed and blow them out. If the ladder fits in the truck bed, then lay down the ladder and secure it and anything else in the bed. If the ladder needs to be leaned against the cab, make sure you use tie downs to properly secure it.
Put Your Ladder Inside Your Vehicle
Another option you have when transporting ladders, is to put the ladder in your vehicle. Make sure you put your ladder on the floor and somewhere where it won’t slide up to the front and hit the windshield, or worse, a person. If the ladder is too long for the car, make sure you properly secure the ladder inside the car and attach a flag of some kind so drivers behind you can see the ladder protruding from the car. If you are able to get your ladder all the way inside your vehicle, you will actually get better gas mileage than if you keep the ladder on top of the vehicle or hanging out of the back.
I recently found this study based on some research about construction industry accidents in Sweden. The study is a few years old, but the information is still relevant. The research was trying to find what was causing injuries to the workers in the construction industry, and they found falling from ladders was the most common cause.
The study found that “Ladder accidents account for nearly 5 percent of all reported occupational accidents in the Swedish construction industry. This is almost 600 accidents in the Swedish construction industry alone.”
-Using a ladder with the wrong angle of inclination
-Stepladders tipping sideways
In addition to the facts surrounding these construction industry accidents, researchers found a couple of other points of interest. Researchers found that almost half of all the accidents happened to carpenters and painters. Researchers also found that those 40 percent of those who were injured were absent for more than a month, and half of all victims had permanent disability.
Preventing the Accidents
As the research shows, those who are injured from ladder falls face some severe complications after the accident. So, what can those who work in the construction industry do to help prevent ladder injuries?
Make sure you teach your employees how to set up and climb the ladder so the bottom won’t slide out. Teach them about putting their ladder at the right incline angle and then how to prevent the stepladders from tipping.