If you use a ladder, always think ladder safety!
Falling off of a ladder is something that people often think either it will never happen to them or it won’t hurt! But for those who have actually had it happen to them, it can be a very distressing and painful experience.
According to the HSE “Kinds of accident in Great Britain, 2017” report, falls from a height account for an average of 40 fatal injuries per year (28% of the total UK accidents) with about a quarter of a million people visiting the emergency room each year because of a ladder-related fall. That breaks down to 28 ER visits per hour, every day of the year!
These accidents occur from simple homeowners tasks such as cleaning gutters, fixing roofs, hanging Christmas lights through to professional painter and decorators, window cleaners and construction workers. Victims suffer everything from bruises, lacerations, twisted ankles, broken bones through to concussions, internal injuries, paralysis and even death.
So what are common mistakes that lead to ladder related injuries?
Placing the ladder incorrectly:
Placing the ladder on steady level ground is extremely important in maintaining safety, as well as a huge factor in keeping your balance. If the ground or ladder shifts even a little, it can be enough for the ladder to topple over. That’s why is so important to always use an appropriate ladder safety device and ladder safety equipment to help secure the ladder.
Using the wrong type of ladder for the project.
Each ladder is made for specific uses and has specific limitations such as weight limit and height. Ensure that ladder you use meets your working at height needs and risk assessments. Ladder specifications are there for a reason and the ladder cannot safely support more than the maximum weight limit provided. If your project requires a high elevation and your ladder is not the appropriate height, this raises the potential for injury.
Using the ladder incorrectly.
The directions and warnings on ladders are there for a reason – Never use a ladder in any other way than what it is intended for. Do not reach for something which is not within reach while at the top of the ladder and do not climb down or up the ladder with your hands full. Additionally, standing on the top step of a ladder is one of the most dangerous things you can do and significantly increases the chance of falling.
Using a ladder that has seen better days.
If the is ladder old, it may be worn and therefore unsafe. Make sure to inspect the condition of your ladders before attempting a climb.
Not using three points of contact with the ladder at all times.
Three points of contact with the ladder means both feet on the ladder, and at least one hand at all times. Climbing a ladder with full hands and/or stretching to reach things is very dangerous.
This is not a exhaustive list and you should always refer to the HSE “safe use of ladders and step ladders” guide and the working a height act. Don’t become another statistic! If you use a ladder always think ladder safety!