Ladders are used on all types of job sites, both indoors and outdoors. Indoors, remodeling contractors, electricians, even plumbers use ladders for their jobs. Outdoors, they are used for framing of a house or building, performing roofing jobs, and at construction sites.
Unfortunately, ladders also pose risk to workers. If ladders have not been maintained properly or if employees are not using them correctly, they pose a very high risk factor. Here are some things to keep in mind in terms of ladder safety in your small business.
Use the Right Ladder for the Job
The first most important thing to understand when using a ladder is to ensure that the ladder used is the right one for the job. There are different types of ladders, each of which can hold a different amount of weight. If you attempt to use a lighter ladder with a heavier load, it could lead to the ladder breaking or an employee falling, both of which may result in an impending injury.
For point of reference, a typical small household ladder holds up to 200 pounds, a commercial ladder holds up to 225 pounds, and an industrial ladder holds up to 250 pounds.
Learn How to Use the Ladder Properly
After ensuring your workers have selected the right ladder for the job, teach them how to use it properly. This may seem basic, but there are actually many workplace safety techniques and tips that can help prevent injury and be safe while using the ladder. These tips include:
- Secure the ladder before standing on it or going up it. Never go up a ladder that seems rickety. It must have proper support and stability. It is also good to have a spotter at the bottom of the ladder, holding it in place.
- Always go up and down the ladder by facing it; never face outward.
- Do not climb the ladder higher than the second run, or the third rung if you are using an extension ladder.
- If carrying loads, they should be strapped to your back, not in your hands under any circumstances. You need your hands free to climb the ladder.
Keep Up With Maintenance
Proper ladder maintenance is also important before you or any of your employees use them. Teach employees to take a moment to inspect the ladder’s condition and quality every time they use it. On a routine basis, conduct a longer, more in-depth inspection, looking for rough spots and burrs on an aluminum ladder, or broken latches on an extension ladder. For wood ladders, look for signs of rot, splinters, and wood that is cracked.
Additional OSHA Requirements
OSHA also has their own requirements for practicing ladder safety. This includes:
- Requiring all stepladders and fold-out ladders to have a locking device while in the open position.
- Having a landing or platform between two or more ladders being used to reach a work area on the job site.
- Keeping the nearby area clear.
Teach your employees these proper safety tips. Always be covered with workers’ compensation insurance just in case an employee suffers an injury from using a ladder.