Step Ladders

Why talk about ladders?
Every year an average of 14 people die and a further 1200 are seriously injured at work as a result of  falling from a leaning ladder or stepladder. Here are examples of such accidents.

■ A joiner working from a leaning ladder to replace a gutter applied force to the guttering to free it from a bracket, lost his balance and fell 4 m. He broke a bone in his back resulting in 10 days in hospital and 6 months off work. He can now only do light work that does not involve heavy lifting.

■ During refurbishment of a warehouse a contractor placed a wooden leaning ladder between two  stands of pallet racking. The ladder was leaning at an angle of 45° with the top against one rack and the bottom against another, to stop it from slipping. The ladder broke under the user’s weight, causing him to fall to the ground and fracture his skull.

■ A self-employed electrician was working from the second from top rung of a 2 m-high industrial aluminum stepladder. He was over-reaching while operating a power drill and lost his balance, falling onto the concrete floor. He fractured his skull and right heel, and was off work for three months.

By listening to this talk and putting what you hear into practice you can help make sure these sort of accidents do not happen to you.

The stepladder is one of the most familiar things on a construction site. Still, workers get hurt using

Falls are the biggest risk. Even though you’re not very high off the ground, workers have died from falling a short distance and landing the wrong way. Even sprains or strains could mean pain and days
off work.

Here’s how to use a stepladder right.

[Use a step ladder to demonstrate the following points in your talk.]

  • Check the ladder for defects or damage – at the start of your shift – after it has been used somewhere else by other workers – after it has been left in one place for a long time.
  • Keep the area at the base of the ladder clear.
  • Make sure the spreader arms lock securely in the open position.
  • Stand no higher than the second step from the top.
  • Never straddle the space between a step ladder and another point.
  • When standing on the ladder, avoid leaning forward, backward, or to either side.
  • Always open the ladder fully before using it. Don’t use an unopened step ladder as a straight
    or extension ladder. The feet are not designed for this use.
  • Never stand on the top step, the top, or the pail shelf of a step ladder.
  • When climbing up or down a step ladder, always face the ladder and maintain 3-point contact.