A coworker of mine recently found a YouTube film series called “My Safety Story.” The videos are produced by the Nebraska Public Power District. Each video in the film series starts with the person telling the story. The person talks about what led to him getting injured and then goes on to discuss the recovery process and the struggles he faced.
Most everyone knows someone who has been injured in a ladder-related accident. The story is usually sad and a little tough to hear. The films tell the real stories of real people and can be a great training resource.
“My Safety Story: ladder edition
We found two stories that talked about ladder accidents. Watch them here, and feel free to go to watch the other safety stories on their YouTube Channel.
If you follow us on Google+, the first video might seem familiar since we shared it there earlier this week. It still has a great message.
“What I thought would be a 5-minute job ended up being a six month painful ordeal for my wife and I.” So many times, the safe way can seem like it will take longer, but it will actually take less time and definitely less money in the long-run. This video talks about a small mistake he made while preparing for a family party. The small mistake resulted in a costly recovery process.
This video talks about a simple mistake a man named Pat Miller. The simple error resulted in surgery and months of recovery, not to mention the extensive costs.
As I began a ladder safety class this week, I asked if anyone knew someone who had been hurt using a ladder. A man in the class said his 20 year old son had fallen from a stepladder and hit his head. The surgery required was so risky that the father had to sign a release to allow the surgeons to try it. Thankfully, he made a full recovery, but it was a long, painful and costly rehab process.
When I asked about the details of the accident, I was surprised that he had only been using a four foot stepladder. The ladder was too short, so he stood on the top cap and then over-reached, causing the ladder to tip. Once the ladder tipped, he fell to the ground. His feet fell the same way the ladder fell, but the rest of him fell went to the side with the ladder causing him to land on his head.
What We Can Learn
The son had had several larger ladders available, but he chose to carry the smaller ladder because it was lighter. Choosing the lightest ladder, regardless of whether or not it will do the job, is a common safety problem on every job site. Once workers start working and find the ladder is too short, they rarely go back and get the larger ladder. Workers climb on the top rung or the top cap of the ladder to gain extra height, leaving them nothing to hold on to.
Now that you know workers have a tendency to choose the wrong ladder, what are you going to do about it? The most important thing is to train employees about the importance of choosing a ladder that is tall enough for the job. The next step is to enforce this rule. Make sure you correct an employee each time you see him using or about to use the wrong ladder.
Solutions to Stepladder Issues
Little Giant has worked to design a ladder that should reduce these types of accidents. The Select Step is a six foot A-frame ladder that adjusts to be a seven, eight, nine or ten foot ladder. It is still relatively light, but can be adjusted if the worker realizes he or she needs a taller ladder than expected. The ladder also has wheels to make it easier to move around.
Hopefully we can do a little better job of training, enforcing and using the better products so no one else goes through what the man’s son went through.
This is a little Throwback Thursday to the very first article that Dave got published. The article was printed on Occupational Health & Safety’s website and was titled “Higher Calling.” You can find the entire article here.
In the article, Dave talks about the importance of taking time to use the ladder safely. He also discusses the value of having employees complete valuable safety training.
Dave goes on to discuss how to design safety into the design of the ladder. He talks about how using fiberglass-resin-composite ladders can reduce back and shoulder injuries, since they are lighter than the traditional extension ladder.
Dave then talks about making sure to use the right ladder for the job. Making sure the ladder is the correct length and is used for its intended purpose are both crucial to using a ladder safely.
The third point Dave makes in the article is to make sure to not overreach when climbing the ladder. Sometimes, in an effort to save time, workers will reach instead of climbing down the ladder and moving it to the necessary location. An advancement to combat the issue of overreaching is creating retractable wide-stance outriggers that adjust to unleveled ground. These outriggers help the ladder stay stable, helping the man at the top to be safe.
Dave then discusses the importance of overcoming complacency. Ladders can be quite dangerous, and it is important to not become lackadaisical in enforcing safety.
In his closing remarks, Dave reminds readers of the reality of ladder injuries. He says:
Every day, more than 500 people go to the hospital because of a ladder-related accident; 25 of those people are permanently disabled, and one of them dies. A combination of better safety training and the introduction of ladders designed to be safer will literally prevent injuries and save lives.
The article was written and published a little over a year and a half ago, in October of 2012, but the things he talked about are still important. Safety designed into the ladder can help save lives. Using the right ladder for the job is crucial. Being careful to avoid overreaching can prevent painful and costly injuries. Continually enforcing these safety guidelines continues to be important as well.
Almost all ladder accidents are preventable, but what makes them preventable? One of the best ways is to prevent accidents is to provide education. Training and educating individuals on the ways to properly use ladders and prevent falling is one of the best ways to prevent ladder injuries. Without the training, they may make mistakes out of ignorance.
Education for the Most at Risk Groups
According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, men between 35 and 55 are at the highest risk for a ladder-related injury. Education for all genders and age groups is important, but, men ages 35-55 should have special attention, since they are more likely to be using ladders and then getting injured by the other groups.
How to Educate
So, how do you educate this group? Some education can take place on the labels and packaging of the ladders, but this education is probably not quite enough. The first step to educating, is finding where they are using their ladders and what they are using them for.
On the Job
If the group is using the ladders at their jobs, the key to education is properly training them at work. Have them complete online safety training, or bring in a safety professional to train them. Make sure the safety guidelines are enforced so no bad habits have the chance of developing.
If the ladders are mainly being used at home, training gets a little trickier. As mentioned before, there are instructions and warning labels. Another idea could be to include some sort of training in the places selling the ladders. Home Depot and Lowe’s are two of the big name stores that carry ladders, and there are loads of smaller stores as well. Any of the stores that sell ladders could include a community training for anyone interested in learning more about ladder safety.
What ways would you suggest for educating people on proper ladder safety?