I just read this great article from OH&S Magazine about how there is more to preventing accidents than just using equipment, since equipment can sometimes fail. The article then explains other steps to take to prevent accidents.
The first recommendation is to have training. The training can include: the nature of fall hazards in the work area(s); procedures for erecting, maintaining, disassembling and inspecting fall protection systems; use and operation of guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, safety net systems, warning line systems, safety monitoring systems, controlled access zones, and other protection. The training can also include the employee’s role with each set of equipment. Training has been proven to prevent accidents and help employees be safer.
The next recommendation is to enforce the training. If you train employees but don’t do anything to enforce the training, you are not having a safe environment. Challenges may arise, especially if you are making policy changes that require enforcement, but, as you remain consistent, the overall attitude will shift and your workplace culture will become more safe.
The final recommendation is to evaluate your policy regularly. Look at what is working and what could be improved. Make regular adjustments as necessary.
One of the most important steps when setting up an extension ladder is making sure the ladder is at the correct angle. When an extension ladder is being used, it should be at a 75.5 degree angle. A couple of tools have been created to help the user find the correct angle.
The NIOSH App
NIOSH created an app with great ladder safety tips. The app includes information on how to do a thorough ladder inspection. It also has a way to check the ladder’s angle. You open the app and set your phone an the ladder rung. The app then tells you if you need to have your ladder less or more steep.
Some ladders, including the HyperLite, have bubble indicators that show the operator when the ladder is level. These indicators help the operator know if the ladder needs to be made more or less steep.
The 4-to-1 Rule
If you don’t access to a ladder with bubble indicators or the NIOSH app, the next best thing is to think of the 4-to-1 rule for ladder safety. For every four feet of ladder height you are climbing, move the base of the ladder one foot from the wall.
These tips will help you climb safely when using an extension ladder so you can complete your job and not become a statistic.
The article shared a study from the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The study found that falls are still the leading cause of unintentional injury mortality nationwide. In fact, 43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder.
Here is a graph they shared in the article:
Here are some facts, according to the study:
Men and Hispanics had higher rates of fatal and nonfatal LFIs compared with women and non-Hispanic whites and workers of other races/ethnicities.
LFI rates increased with age, except for injuries treated in emergency rooms.
Fatality rates were significantly higher for self-employed workers (0.30 per 100,000 FTE workers) than salary/wage workers (0.06 per 100,000 FTE workers).
Companies with the fewest employees had the highest fatality rates.
The construction industry had the highest LFI rates compared with all other industries.
Across all industries, the highest fatal and nonfatal LFI rates were in the following two occupation groups: construction and extraction (e.g., mining) occupations, followed by installation, maintenance and repair occupations.
Head injuries were implicated in about half of fatal injuries (49 percent), whereas most nonfatal injuries involved the upper and lower extremities for employer-reported and emergency room-treated nonfatal injuries
These numbers are truly staggering. This is why I do what I do, to decrease these numbers and help you return home to your family instead of becoming a statistic. Let’s Break the Statistic Together. Use the hashtag #BreaktheStatistic to join the conversation.