Horticulture Ladder Safety

IMG_3176For those of you who work in the horticulture industry, we wanted to do a special post to help you be safer on ladders.  Horticulture is known for being a risky industry, with falls from high ladders, trees and stepladders.  Summer and fall are the most common times for these injuries since that is the busy time for horticulturist. More than 1000 people are injured while working in horticulture every year. Also, since 2008 10 people have died. So, how can these accidents be prevented? One major way is by using ladders more safely.  Here are a couple of tips specifically for horticulturists.

Level Ground

Always make sure the ground is level, and use levelers when necessary. When trimming trees and doing other outside work, the ground is naturally uneven. Make sure to either dig out ground on one side or use levelers to help prevent your ladder from tipping.

Follow the Belt Buckle Rule

Never reach outside the rails of the ladder. If you lean, your ladder is more likely to tip which can lead to severe injuries. If you find yourself tempted to lean, get off the ladder and move it closer to where you need it to be.

Use the Right Ladder

SS-6-10-Pruning-2-e1447266449211Always choose the right ladder for the job. Orchard ladders, like the one in the picture, just aren’t safe to use. Extension ladders are not good options either. The best ladder for horticulture would be an adjustable a-frame. You can adjust the height to reach what you need to, but the ladder is stable.

Never lean the ladder against the Tree

One of the common things I see is a person leaning an extension ladder against a tree he or she is trimming. This is incredibly dangerous. In fact, there are plenty of “ladder fails” and other accidents reported from trimming a tree this way. Instead, use an a-frame ladder and don’t lean it against what you’re trimming.

 

 

Fatal Fall

I found another ladder accident news story. This one is quite sad and, unfortunately, most likely could have been prevented.

A man had to trim a tree. He set up the ladder, leaning it against the tree and then tied the ladder to the tree with a rope. He climbed the ladder and begam trimming the tree with a chainsaw. After a bit, the tree fell, knocking the man off the ladder onto the concrete. The man passed away from his injuries two days later. It turns out the tree had termites and was not stable.

This tragic accident could have been prevented if proper ladder safety would have been followed. Here are a couple reminders for when you are trimming trees.

Don’t lean against the tree

Never lean against the tree you are trimming or cutting down. When you lean the ladder against the tree, you are more likely to have fallen branches knock you down or fall when the tree falls down. Either of these situations would likely lead to serious injury.

Use the Right Ladder for the Job

Many people use extension ladders when pruning trees. They set the ladder up and lean it against the tree, but this is when accidents happen. An A-frame is a better option when trimming trees. You can set up the ladder independent from the tree.  Make sure the ladder is locked into place and then do the pruning. If something happens to the tree, you will still be safe.

SS-6-10-Pruning-2-e1447266449211Follow the Belt Buckle Rule

While trimming trees, keep your body between the ladder rails. It can be hard to follow this particular safety tip sometimes, but staying between the rails will prevent you from falling or from your ladder tipping.

This man’s story is a sad one. Please help us prevent accidents like his from happening.

Holiday Ladder Safety

During this time of year, I always like to do a post on holiday ladder safety. The holidays are known for being a joyful time, and it would be terrible to have an accident put a damper on the season.

One of the common tasks this time of year is hanginf Christmas lights and other outdoor decorations. Here are a few tips to help you be safe:

Use the ladder on even ground

Ground is rarely perfectly level by itself. Make the ladder as even as you can by digging out the ground on one side or by using levelers.

Set the Ladder Up Correctly

When setting the ladder up, make sure the hinges are locked into place. For an A-frame stepladder, you want to double check that the hinge locks into place, otherwise the ladder will collapse and you will get injured.

Use the Right Ladder for the Job

Depending on the height of your house and the decorations you are putting up, you will most likely be choosing between an A-frame stepladder and an extension ladder. Before setting the ladder up, consider the height you need and which ladder would help you get the job done most safely.

Stay Between the Rails

Once you are on the ladder, make sure to stay between the ladder rails. Leaning while on the ladder could lead to a catastrophic accident. Follow the “belt buckle rule” and keep your body between the rails.

Beware of Weather 

Wait until you have a nice, clear day to use your ladder. If it is windy, snowy, or rainy, wait until the weather has cleared up before setting up your decorations.

While this post is aimed more at home owners than those working on the job site, we figured it might be a good reminder with the holidays here now.

Infographic

I found this great infographic with ladder safety tips, and I thought I would share.

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Advocates

I ran across another article talking about a ladder accident. Two New York men were injured when they were doing repairs on a church. Ladder accidents are one of the most common causes of construction workers’ injuries. These accidents often result in injuries like broken bones, spinal injuries and brain injuries.

One thing mentioned in the article is the importance of having an advocate when it comes to these types of situations. Workers actually do have a few people (or groups of people) advocating for their safety and well-being.

 

Safety Officers

Safety officers are kind of the first line of safety advocacy. They advocate for all workers on a job site. Safety officers advocate for the right equipment. They also advocate for proper training. They are available if there is a safety issue that isn’t being addressed properly.

Prevention

Prevention is another line of advocacy. It might sound a little weird, but the concept of prevention advocates to keep the workers safe. Safety harnesses, using products designed with safety in mind, and following established safety guidelines are all ways that prevention helps us be safer.

Lawyers

There are plenty of lawyers ready and willing to help when a person gets injured on the job. While lawyers do sometimes get a bad reputation, they are a good option for someone who’s company did not help with the injury as much as they should have.

This post is a little different than other posts, but sometimes it can be benficial to look at ladder safety from another angle.

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