Did you know that 40% of all on-the-job fatalities occur as a result of a fall from height? Well, that’s what the Health and Safety Executive found in a recent study. With the majority of these accidents occurring within the construction and agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, it’s pretty safe to assume that a ladder would have been involved in some, if not many of these cases. Despite this, the majority of people still do not know how to safely use a ladder to prevent injuries and fatalities from happening. And it’s not just on the job, a large number of incidents occur at home too!
Knowing how to prevent ladder-related injuries such as falls will result in the number of fatalities both at home and at work decreasing. So, how can you do it? Let’s find out! But first, let’s take a look at what most commonly causes injuries involving a ladder.
Causes of Ladder Injuries
In total, there are four main reasons why ladder users fall and injure themselves. These are to do with the type of ladder they are using, the condition of the ladder, how they are using it and how they place it.
Ladder Types – The type of ladder that you choose to use for a particular task or job is very important. Just like tools, using the wrong ladder for a particular task is asking for trouble. For example, you would never use a hop-up ladder on a set of stairs when painting and decorating, you’d use a combination ladder. Each ladder comes with its style and features designed to suit a particular application. By using the incorrect ladder, you place yourself at risk of either falling off the ladder or the ladder collapsing. Either way, it’s not going to end well. Before starting any job that requires a ladder, ensure that you double-check its suitability. Make sure the maximum weight limit and height of the ladder is sufficient for you to carry out the task safely and efficiently.
Ladder Condition – The condition of the ladder that you’re using is just as important as the type. Like most things, ladders have a shelf life and after a certain number of years, they need to be replaced as they begin to wear down from the stress of being climbed up and down. A damaged ladder is extremely dangerous as they carry the risk of breaking down at any given moment and causing major injuries. To prevent this from happening, ensure you thoroughly inspect the condition of your ladder before using it. If you identify any signs of damage or wear and tear, do not attempt to use it until it has been safely repaired or replaced. High-quality ladders are easy to find!
Using the Ladder Incorrectly – By far the biggest factor in the cause of ladder injuries is human error. Here, ladders users often take it upon themselves to use a ladder incorrectly, either by lengthening or altering the ladder in some way or another. This is extremely dangerous and comes as no surprise that it is one of the biggest reasons why people hurt themselves. To avoid getting injured, you must aim to maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times to ensure stability. You should also never attempt to reach for something that is outside of the width of the ladder. It is much safer to climb down the ladder, move it and then climb back up.
Placing the Ladder Incorrectly – Incorrect placement of a ladder if the final cause of many ladder-related injuries. To prevent these from occurring, ensure that when you do position a ladder, the ground you place it on is always firm and level. Never use a ladder that is placed on uneven ground as this increases the probability of the ladder becoming unstable, resulting in a fall. As well as the level of the ground, you should never position your ladder in front of a door that is unlocked or unguarded as anyone can come through at any time and walk into the ladder whilst you’re working. If for any reason you have no option but to work on uneven ground, ensure you have someone else there with you to help support the ladder from the base while you are on it.
By ensuring that these four things are considered before using a ladder, you will go a long way in preventing any accidents from occurring whilst you are working!