The American Ladder Institute is a great safety resource for anyone who uses ladders. Their website has plenty of great information, including ladder safety training and certification. In addition to all the great content on their site, the ALI also posts great information across their social media pages. Here’s one post from their Twitter:
“Spring often comes with inclement weather, making ladder safety extra important this time of year. When using a ladder, make sure to always:
– wear slip-resistant shoes
– avoid setting up your ladder on slippery ground
– refrain from using ladders in cases of high winds or storms”
The top list of OSHA violations was released for 2017, and it has a few ladder-related violations on it. Here’s the list:
- Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 6,072 violations
- Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 4,176
- Scaffolding (1926.451): 3,288
- Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 3,097
- Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,877
- Ladders (1926.1053): 2,241
- Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 2,162
- Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,933
- Fall Protection – Training Requirements: 1,523
- Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305): 1,405
“The OSHA Top 10 is more than just a list, it is a blueprint for keeping workers safe,” NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a Sept. 26 press release. “When we all work together to address hazards, we can do the best job possible to ensure employees go home safely each day.”
What is fall protection?
Fall protection is a system used to keep workers safe when working at height. Different industries have different fall protection guidelines. In fact, some industries require tying off when workers are just two feet off the ground. Fall protection is important and does help safe lives, when used correctly.
A Safe Option
Tying off and using fall protection is great, but it has it’s limitations which is one of the reasons there are so many fall protection violations. Another option to fall protection is using a Safety Cage. There are a few different models, depending on your needs. The Adjustable Safety Cage (the one pictured) has telescoping sides, allowing you to use it on stairs or other unlevel surfaces. The Compact Cage is also adjustable, but has a smaller footprint. The Safety Cage is a Fixed Cage for working at height on level surfaces. Each model of the Cage allows you to work safely in an enclosed platform, following all fall protection requirements without needing to tying off.
Fall protection is important, but is the number one OSHA violation, meaning a lot of people are at danger when working at height. The Cage line is a great option to help you and others work safely at height.
When planning ladder safety training, it helps to be familiar with the main causes of ladder accidents and injuries and then hopefully address those causes in training. To help you, I will talk about the four causes of ladder accidents.
Selecting the Wrong Type of Ladder
When choosing a ladder, choose the correct ladder and ladder size for the job. Keep the height of the task in mind. In addition, make sure you keep the weight guidelines in mind. If the ladder you’re using is rated for only 300 pounds, make sure you and your equipment don’t exceed that limit.
Using Worn or Damaged Ladders
Once a ladder is damaged or overly worn, it should be retired from service. Worn and damaged ladders are dangerous and can put the operator’s life at risk.
It should go without saying that using a ladder incorrectly is a ticking time bomb for an accident. Make sure you also use the ladder on level ground and follow all those safety guidelines we talk about regularly.
Using Overly Heavy Ladders
One thing we don’t talk about much is the risk of using heavy ladders. Often on job sites, workers have to carry heavy equipment and end up with sprains and other health issues due to the weight. As you are working, pay attention to the ladder’s weight and ask another worker to help you carry it if necessary.
These four areas are some of the most common causes of ladder injuries. Hopefully becoming familiar with them will help you find ways to avoid injury.
It feels like every day there is an accident involving a ladder being reported in the news. Each of these stories is tragic and makes me think about what I can do to prevent these types of accidents. Having said that, every now and again, there is a story that makes me think even more about what I can do to make a difference and to prevent injuries and save lives. I recently ran into one of those stories.
I took this story personally because it happened so close to home for me. This story comes from Draper, Utah which is just about 40 minutes from me. Three men were repairing an air conditioner at the top of a building. They were bringing equipment up and down the ladder when the ladder fell into some power lines. The men weren’t on the ladder itself when it fell, but were touching the aluminum ladder. One of the men died and, as of the most recent update, the other two were in critical condition.
What Could Have Been Done
The first way to prevent this type of accident would have been to use a fiberglass ladder. The workers probably thought their aluminum ladder would work just fine since they weren’t working on electrical lines. However, this tragic story is a perfect example of why fiberglass ladders are appropriate for any job that is remotely close to the power line.
The second way to potentially prevent this accident would be to make sure the ladder is at the correct angle. Those reporting on the accident did not have enough information to know exactly what caused the ladder to fall, but, one potential cause would be having the ladder at the wrong angle. If the ladder is at too wide of angle, it can easily slip forward, but having it at too sharp of an angle could make the ladder fall backward. When using an extension ladder, the ladder should be angles to 75.5 degrees in order to prevent a fall.
This story is so sad. I hope the two men in critical condition are able to make a full recovery. Let us learn from their mistakes and remember to use the correct ladders at the correct angle.
Caged ladders are often referred to as cheese graters because if something happens and the person inside the cag falls, he or she will bounce back and forth. Caged ladders have their purpose, but now there are better solutions, making the caged ladder pretty much obsolete.
Normally, a fixed ladder longer than 20 feet requires a cage. The cage starts between 7 and 8 feet and extends 42 inches above the top of the ladder. But, does the cage really make the ladder any safer?
The ladder is in some ways yes, but in other ways no. How does the Cage make the ladder safer? The Cage breaks the climber’s fall. So, instead of falling straight to the ground when he or she slips, the operator bounces back and forth inside the cage. The operator can end up with some nasty bruises and other injuries, but a fall straight to the ground from 20 feet could be worse.
The way the caged ladder is no safer than other ladders has to do with how it got its “cheese grater” nickname. When a person falls, he or she bounces back and forth between the sides of the cage. The cage was actually added to the fixed ladder as a way to prevent people falling backwards. However, people now treat the cage as tool to prevent downward falls, in addition to falls backward.
So, what is a good solution to the cage and fixed ladder? Getting rid of the fixed ladder completely is the best solution. You can use the LedgeLock as an easy and safe alternative. Simply install it and, whenever you need a ladder, just connect your extension ladder to the Ledge Lock.
The fixed ladders with cages are not only unsightly, but also dangerous. Reevaluate the ladders around your property to determine what should be changed out.