Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Step Lively - Winter Ladder Safety

I Know, I know, you've heard this a hundred times before. “Falls from portable ladders are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries.”  By Paul Gladen    

Now that winter is here ladder safety plays an even more important role when using ladders. Inattention and unsafe acts that you could have gotten away with during the summer months are exacerbated and can lead to a trip to the hospital or worse. Frozen ground, snow on shoes, ice on roofs….Snow and ice contribute and magnify the hazards that are always there. Not to mention the added layers one has to wear to ward off the cold can contribute to lessened mobility, visibility, grip etc.

Think of the kid lying on his back in the snow and can’t get up due to too much winter wear. That’s us people just a bit taller.  The rule of thumb this time of year is to be a bit more aware of the hazards and be a bit more diligent in setup for and execution of any job, and today the subject is ladders. Let’s revisit the safety tips of ladder use and pound them a bit deeper in to the old gray matter. (This is for me as much as it is for you. Loss control people need reminding too J)

  • Avoid electrical hazards. Be aware of overhead electrical lines
  • Always inspect the ladder prior to using it.
  • Always maintain a 3-point contact with the ladder. (Two hands one foot. Two feet one hand)
  • Always face the ladder while climbing and descending.
  • Only use ladder and appropriate accessories for their designed purposes.
  • Make sure ladder steps/rungs and boots are free of slippery material. (snow, mud)
  • Don’t use step ladders as single ladder or in partially closed position.
  • Follow all instructions on the ladder and don’t stand on the top step/rung as a step/rung unless it is designed for it.
  • Make sure the ladder is on a stable and level surface.
  • Don’t place ladders on boxes, barrels or any unstable base to obtain additional height.
  • Maintain proper angle of a 4:1 height to base ratio.
  • Beware of placement so that the ladder can’t be knocked over by surrounding activities.
  • Don’t exceed maximum load rating of the ladder.
  • Extension ladders must extend 3 feet above the point of support. 


Walk Through Railing System
Getting on and off extension ladders at the top is one of the largest causes of falls and injury. Eighty percent of the ladder-related falls caused by overturning and shifting of the ladder is, according to a National Safety Council Study, due to getting on and off at the top of extension ladders. 

The act of getting on and off could cause the ladder to slip sideways upsetting balance and causing a fall.   A walk-through Railing System could greatly reduce this hazard and make for safer ladder use. Walk-through devices can be added to appropriate ladders and are OSHA and ANSI approved and meets OSHA requirements and standards.

There are other devices that can be added to the ladder to make them
Ladder Base
more stable such as base systems that can increase the base width and accommodate for uneven ground by leveling the ladder.
Ladder Wheel Dolly

Wheel dollies can also be added to eliminate carrying and the resultant strain and sprain injury hazards.


Ladder safety and fall protection products can be found at most fall protection and safety products web-sites. Web-sites such as Guardian Fall Protection, Fall Protection Pros, Levelok as well as others could be a good place to start.

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