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Working at height is a leading cause of workplace fatalities and serious injuries, with the most common occurrences being falls from ladders and through fragile surfaces. By following some basic ladder safety rules for ladder use, these accidents can be reduced.
When using a ladder, consider the following:
It is important to choose a ladder that is long enough and has a sufficient load capacity for the job, taking into account the weight of the user as well as the weight of any equipment, tools, and materials. The ladder should be long enough to work from without using the top 3 rungs.
Before using the ladder, you should check all fastenings such as bolts, screws and hinges, look for any visible damage, check that all rungs are present and secure and make sure that the ladder has non-slip base pads. You should also check for substances such as oil, paint, water or dirt that could cause the user to lose their grip or footing. If you have any concerns at all, do not use the ladder; inform your supervisor immediately.
Make sure the ladder is stable, placed securely on a level surface and away from any electrical wiring or overhead power lines, doors that open towards you, or other hazards. The area around the ladder should be free of clutter and other equipment.
A straight ladder should be set up using the four-to-one ratio rule; this means that for every 4 feet of height to the point of support, the base should be 1 foot away from the wall or vertical surface. You can estimate this by counting rungs, which are about a foot apart.
If you are working in a high-traffic area, place a barricade around the base to prevent knocks. If you are using a stepladder, it must be fully opened before use. When climbing onto a raised surface such as a roof or platform from a ladder, the ladder must extend at least 3 feet above the roof line and be tied off at the top.
You should face the ladder, stay near the middle and hold onto the side rails with at least one hand when climbing or descending, keeping at least three points of contact on the ladder. Do not lean outside the ladder rails or stand on the top step. Any tools should be carried on a belt or hoist.
Discover how our health & safety and training solutions can significantly reduce workplace accidents caused by falls from heights. Discover which training courses are suitable for your business in our latest blog. Training Courses for Safe Work at Height: Which is Right for Your Business?
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