New Jersey has designed a fall prevention campaign called “Don’t Fall For It.” They have great resources on the nj.gov website, include a printable flyer you could use as a training resource. Feel free to visit their site here, but for now we’ll just recap.
The flyer has two pages. The first page has a checklist for climbing a ladder. The checklist includes facing the ladder, using three points of contact and staying centered between the rails.
The second page has more detailed tips on climbing safely. It breaks down each item from the checklist with reasons why it is an important guideline to follow.
At the bottom of the flyer, they have a question and answer, “Can you really catch yourself if you fall?”
Below is the answer from nj.gov:
“The average person’s reaction time is half a second. In that time you fall 4 feet. As you fall, gravity pulls you down and your speed quickly increases. That means your impact force increases too. And, once you start falling, chances are you will stop only when you hit a lower surface. Still think you can catch yourself? A person who weighs about 200 pounds and falls just 6 feet will hit the ground with almost 10,000 pounds of force. That’s too much for anyone’s grip.”
Basically, you want to prevent falling because it will be difficult (if not impossible) to catch yourself.
The flyer has some great information for you to share with your team during a training. Make sure to check out the link.
When a ladder is not tall enough for the job, the worker stands on the top cap.
Today I’ve decided to talk about choosing the right ladder for the job. Here are a few things to always remember when choosing your ladder .
Always choose a ladder that is the correct size for the job at hand. A common issue I see out in the field is choosing a ladder that is too short for the job. This ends up with workers standing on the top rung and top cap and overreaching to get the job done. Don’t be afraid to get a taller ladder when you realize your ladder is too short. It may take some time to get the ladder switched out, but that little bit of time could save you from a dangerous accident.
Know the weight rating of your ladder and never use a ladder with a lower weight rating than what you need. The weight/ANSI Duty Rating can be found on the label on the side of the ladder. When determining the ladder weight rating you need, calculate the weight of the tools, in addition to your weight.
There are three main materials used for making ladders. The first material is fiberglass. Fiberglass is preferred for most uses because it is non-conductive. Fiberglass ladders are popular in the contruction industry and necessary in the electrical industry. Aluminum is another common material. Aluminum is strong and lightweight, but cannot be used close to electricty. Wood, while once a common ladder material, is not as common as it once was because wood is sensitive to extreme weather like heat and moisture. Wood also can be a conductor when it is wet or damp.
Always make sure you choose the correct ladder for the job.
Here are a couple of super simple OSHA guidelines.
Use Common Sense
Use your brain while on the ladder. Don’t climb on the top rung or top cap and only use a ldder while what it was designed for. Along those same lines, don’t use something as a ladder when it is not. For example, a chair, a shelf, a wheelbarow (believe me, I’ve seen it!) should never be used as a ladder.
Take Care of the Equipment
Always inspect your ladder. Make sure you keep it moving parts well-lubricated. You also want to make sure your ladder is clean and free of any excess oil or grease. If the ladder does not pass the inspection, make sure to take the ladder out of service until the ladder is repaired. If the ladder is damaged beyond repair, the ladder needs to be destroyed.
Understand Equipment Limits
Know the weight rating of your ladder and never exceed the limit. Keep in mind that your equipment and materials need to be factored into the weight limit, in addition to your own weight. Also, you want to make sure that you follow all the guidelines for the ladder. Don’t stant on the top cap of the ladder. Never connect ladders together to make them taller. Use the ladder on a stable, level surface. Never move the ladder while someone is on it.
Understand limits of employees
Make sure the employees get the proper ladder safety training, that they are trained for using their ladders correctly.
Know the Numbers
Know the correct angle for the ladder. Also know the correct weight rating for the ladder.
Hopefully these quick tips will help you climb safer on your ladder!
The Ontario Minister of Labor, Kevin Flynn, wrote a piece for the Financial Post about the importance of “mandatory working-at-height training.”
He talks about attending a recent ceremony honoring a worker who had recently died after a ladder fall. He heard the mom of the worker talking about her 22 year old son who fell off his ladder and died six days later.
Flynn said “The part of my job I hate is hearing that another person has died at work.”
He also adressed those who think Ontario’s mandatory training is “bureaucracy at its worst.”
According to Flynn, 50 workers die in Ontario and 17 of these workers fell from heights, making it the number one cause of death in Ontario.
Flynn said, “…Every single one of those deaths was preventable had the proper precautions been taken. Our training ensures each and every person working at heights knows what those precautions are and knows the risk of not taking them.”
As the Minister of Labor, Flynn takes his job incredibly seriously and looks for ways to decrese workplace accidents. We could all learn from his example as we also work to decrease the number of accidents.
Read the rest of Flynn’s article here.
I’ll be speaking at NSC this next week. Come listen!