In April, NBC News posted an article about workplace falls in residential construction.
The article shares some shocking data about the number of injuries and falls in this industry.
“The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 887 workers died in falls in 2017 — the most since the agency started tracking job-related fatalities nearly three decades ago,” The article states. “Those deaths from falls accounted for more than 17 percent of all job-related fatalities that year, also a record. In construction, the rate was even higher — almost 40 percent.”
According to experts, the increase in the number of accidents is caused by an increase in inexperienced workers who aren’t getting the safety training they need. Larger companies are participating in training efforts like the National Stand-Down and National Safety Month, but smaller construction companies are not, and this lack of participation is affecting their workers’ safety.
So, what can be done to improve this issue?
- If you are a worker at one of these sites, speak up when you see something safe. Smaller companies are obligated to follow all the same safety rules as larger companies.
- If you own a smaller company, get your workers the training they need.
- Change the culture. When you have a mentality of finishing the job no matter what, workers’ safety is automatically put at risk. Change the culture to focus on being safe, and you will see a reduction in injuries.
The accidents happening in residential construction are serious. Workers, especially young, Hispanic workers are especially at risk, but many, if not all, of these accidents, can be prevented.
One of the top trends I’ve noticed in the last couple of years is the leaning ladder trend. Up until just a couple of years ago, the rule was to never use a stepladder folded up against the wall since it is not designed to be used that way. The rule still applies to ordinary stepladders, which can cause some confusion on the job site when there is a leaning ladder.
Leaning ladders have extra rubber to prevent them from slipping out so they can be used safely in the leaning position. Most ladder companies have a leaning ladder. The King Kombo from Little Giant Is a leaning ladder, in addition to an extension ladder and stepladder. The narrow side on the stepladder can fit through wall studs to help framers work more safely. The rotating top cap accessory allows you to work on inside or outside corners safely. The King Kombo Industrial comes with a v-bar for use on outside corners in the extension position too.
It is truly amazing how much innovation is happening in the ladder industry. Gone are the days when you have an ordinary ladder with the same warning labels.
If you have a leaning ladder on your job site, make sure to use it safely.
Step Ladders are a common tool you will find in many industrial occupations, including construction carpenters, electricians, landscapers, brick and cement masons, drywall installers, and much more. Step Ladders are also often used within the home.
When using a step ladder be sure to remember these important safety tips. Start with level ground or use a leveling tool to adjust the ladder. Ladders are susceptible to tipping when not supported evenly at the base. Make sure your ladder is opened and locked in the right position. Never leave a ladder in a partially opened position. Once your ladder is set up correctly, be cautious when ascending and descending. Do not attempt to reposition your ladder while climbing or resting on the steps. Stay towards the middle of the steps and do not overreach, as doing so can create instability. While it may seem easier to carry objects yourself while ascending, always face your ladder when in use and keep a firm hold with your hands. Lastly, never stand on the top step of your ladder, it is unstable and not suitable for climbing.
Your ladder should be equipped with built-in safety tools. You should see anti-slip safety feet on the bottom to prevent sliding. Your spreaders should stay strong and locked when in use. Your steps should stay secure and hold in place to support your weight. If one of these aspects is not working as intended, do not climb your ladder. Always do an inspection before you climb to make sure your ladder is in good enough shape to use.
Keeping these tips in mind, no matter the job, will keep you safe while operating your ladder. For more information and articles on stepladder safety visit AmericanLadderInstitute.org.
With all the projects you need to accomplish, ladder safety may be the least of your concerns. We know it may not be at the top of your priorities, but with 724,000 ladder-related injuries every year, it really is better to be safe than sorry. Luckily, even if safety isn’t your first concern, it is always ours. Safety is our priority which is why we have compiled the most important steps for you.
- Never set up your ladder on uneven ground. Being even a few inches off at the bottom can put you several feet off at the top. Either find even ground or use a leveler tool such as the Little Giant Leveler.
- Always maintain three points of contact while climbing to help you create stability.
- Always wear proper equipment for your workplace. Eighty-four percent of people who suffered injuries from impact to the head were not wearing a hard hat.
- When using an extension ladder, be far enough away from the wall to be stable. The key is to move your ladder one foot at the base for every four feet you climb up.
Using these safety tips while getting your stuff done is the best way to stay safe and accomplish your big goals.
Pest Control Technology, a publication designed for pest control companies, put together a ladder safety survey asking companies about the number of ladder-related accidents they’ve had in recent years. Here’s a screenshot of the survey results.
Based on these results, it looks like some progress has been made in the ladder safety world, but there is still work to be done.