Ladder Safety #3

    A ladder is a fairly simple piece of equipment. Using one safely is basically a matter of common sense. Why, then, do so many construction workers suffer serious injuries with ladders? In most cases they ignore the easily recognized safe procedures because they are in too much of a hurry. But finishing a job by a certain time is never that urgent that you should take unnecessary risks with your safety. In any case, here are a few basic rules for safe use of ladders:

1 Set up your ladder carefully. Position a straight ladder so that it is about a foot from the wall for every 4 feet from ground level to the point where the ladder touches the wall.

2 Set the ladder down on a level, firm surface but one that isn’t slippery. Soft ground that causes the ladder to lean to one side, as one foot sinks deeper than the other, can be dangerous. Cement or tile surfaces have the advantage of being hard but are sometimes slippery. Make sure that the feet of a straight ladder get good traction.

3 The taller a ladder is, the greater the need to secure it at the top. If you are not sure how or when to secure the ladder in a given situation, ask your foreman.

4 If you are going up to a roof or platform on a straight ladder, the top of the ladder should extend at least three feet above the edge of the roof or platform. This gives you a bit of a safety margin in case it slips to one side. It also offers a handhold.

5 Make sure the surface you lean the ladder against is stable. Avoid such things as very flimsy rain gutters.

6 While on a ladder, always hang on with at least one hand and never lean out farther than your belt buckle. Also do not climb higher than the second step from the top of a step ladder or the third rung from the top of a straight ladder.

7 Report any unsafe ladders to your foreman. Even a short step ladder can be dangerous if it is defective. Make sure the spreader on a step ladder locks in place. ♦

* Step Up in Safety *