Many years ago, my cousins fell from a two storey house and landed on his back. He was lucky enough to walk away from this workplace incident. To this day he still has ongoing back issues, but fortunately he is still alive and able to walk. Many workers in Australia either lose their life or have severe injuries which prevent them carrying out their normal duties or in some cases they are confined to a wheel chair. The average work day is 8hrs in which 21 workers are injured due to a fall from height!! That’s 2.6/hr!!. Of the fall from heights injuries/fatalities, ladders as the origin of the fall, makes up approximately 16% with vehicle and roof a close second at 11%. This is why ladder safety is very important in the workplace.
The main root causes of these injures can be broken down in the following
- During access and egress of the ladder
- Over balancing
- Ladder moved
- Ladder collapse
All of these could have been prevented by ensuring checks and care is taken when using ladders. The following are some things to be considered when using a ladder in the workplace or at home
Before using the ladder the following are to be checked:
- Ensure the ladder is in good condition
- Ensure no loose or cracked rungs
- Ensure non-slip feet are fitted and in good condition
- Ensure the ladder is the correct height for the job. The ladder should extend approximately 1m past the surface its resting on.
Now that you have checked the ladder its important the setup is correct
- Ensure the surface where the ladder is to be placed is dry and the ground is level. If you are placing the ladder on soil, place a hard board under the ladder to ensure the ladder doesn’t sink in the soil.
- Ensure all locks and braces on the ladder have been engaged and fully opened
- Ensure at all times the ladder is clear of powerlines and exposed electrical wiring
- Ensure when ladder is placed the distance from the wall at the base is equal to ¼ of the height of the ladder eg 11m ladder is to be 2.5m from the wall at the ground level (ladder height – support height divided by 4)
Note – height is to the point of support
Now that your ladder is setup correctly you can ensure the following:
- Ensure footwear is well fitting and slip resistant. No sandals or thongs.
- Ensure you have someone at the base of the ladder while you are using it.
- Ensure any tools are carried in a tool belt.
- Ensure three (3) points of contact are maintained at all times
- Ensure you are working within arm’s reach. Do not stretch, move the ladder to get in a better position.
- Ensure that only one person at a time accesses the ladder
- Do no sue the ladder in windy or raining conditions
In the workplace when working at heights great than 2m, this is considered a high risk work activities and require a safe work method statement (SWMS) to be documented . A SWMS describes the activities to be undertaken, associated risk, resources required and control measures to be applied.
If you need help with your ladder safety in your business, or would like to know more please contact me today on 0413917722. At Zero Exposure Solutions we also have formed a number of alliances with suppliers. If you are looking for a product or service that we don’t provide, we can help you find the right one suited to your business.