23 Aug 2019
In some industries, ladders are integral to doing the job. Taking a misstep on ladder safety in the workplace is not only costly for the company but can cost people their livelihood – or their life. Over 4,000 Australians fell from ladders last year; many falls and slips can be prevented with proper training and routine. Here are some tips for keeping safe on the job with ladders to make sure everyone is taken care of at the end of the day.
Download the Ladder Safety Checklist
Select the right ladder
First up, you need to choose the right ladder for the job. Step ladders might be suitable for reaching higher shelves in a warehouse; an A-Frame could be more suitable for painting or use as a scaffold. Extension ladders are also an option for reaching high areas in the middle of a room. You should also consider the make of the ladder; an aluminium ladder is good as a “general purpose” solution, while jobs around electricity or extreme temperatures need a fibreglass ladder.
You should always check the rated load of the ladder before you use it. If a ladder such as our STURGO Fibreglass Platform Ladder, can hold 150kg, make sure your own weight and the weight of your tools do not exceed the rating. The load capacity is its maximum weight, not a “guideline” or a case of “plus or minus ten percent.” If you go up with more than 150kg, it’s more than likely you may injure yourself.
Weight and materials
Before using any ladder, you must inspect it for safety. Step ladders and extension ladders may have broken joints or latches. Aluminium ladders could be cracked, broken, or have anti-slip feet missing. Fibreglass ladders are protected with a sealant – if they are damaged through the sealant, you may have to sand it down and apply more. If an A-frame or adjustable ladder has immobile joints or wheels, they may need oiling. Brakes should also be tested. If any of these parts do not work properly, set aside the job, or find a ladder that fulfils all safety requirements.
Proper safety requires proper technique. The “golden” rule of ladder climbing is always the three-point contact rule – two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot on the ladder. Feet should be planted in the middle of the rung or step. If possible, use personal protective equipment such as harnesses and anchor points. Never carry loads in one hand – use a tool belt or spotter to help hand you equipment. Also – never rush. Rushing about is the leading cause of accidents.
Proper technique using PPE
Level ground and extension
Your ladder should always rest on level ground. Never use “boosts” such as phone books or blocks of wood – this is always less stable. Extension ladders should always rest one metre above the ledge it’s resting on. The ladder should always be at least one metre away from the foundation. Also be sure to use ladders away from high-traffic areas. If it can’t be avoided, use high-vis signage and cordons.
Checkout our Ladder Safety Checklist to help ensure you are safely using your ladder.
To find out more about safety around ladders, or to see our range of ladders for all workplaces, please visit Backsafe Australia or give us a call on 1300 305 314.
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