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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

10 safety tips for working on ladders

Maralyn Kastel - Saturday, September 13, 2014

According to the Government body Safe Work Australia, falls from heights are a major cause of death and injury in Australian workplaces. On average, around 26 workers fall to their deaths each year and nearly 8,000 others are injured.

The word heights conjure up visions of construction on skyscrapers, or, at least multi-story buildings. However heights can be falls from ladders, forklift cages, vehicles, roofs and other more common situations.

According to Safe Work Australia’s October 2013 publication “Work Related Injuries And Fatalities Involving A Fall From Height, Australia”, half of all fatal falls between 2003 and 2011 were from heights of less than three metres. Of these fatalities, the greatest number involved falls from ladders.

Falls from ladders, as well as steps and stairs, accounted for almost half of all falls that resulted in injuries. Just as with fatalities, the next highest place for falls were those from vehicles; “trucks, semi-trailers, lorries”. Falls from the top of buildings and other structures came in third.

An awareness of the dangers of falls from heights and of the measures needed to prevent them is required for everyone who works at heights which includes anyone who may be at risk of falling from one level to another, whether that be from a ladder, stairs, vehicle, or building.

In regards to the number one origin of falls, ladders, here are just some of the safety precautions that have to be followed in their use:

  1. First, determine if the ladder is the best tool to for the job. Use ladders for light work of less than 30 minutes
  2. Always check the ladder before use to make sure that it is safe to use. Are the rubber (or other non-slip covering) on the feet in good condition, rungs in good shape, and stiles not warped or bent? If there is any question about the physical condition of the ladder, do not use it.
  3. Make sure that the feet of the ladder are on solid and level ground. - If set up on grass or dirt, make sure that it is solid and not wet or soft. If necessary and possible, use a board to provide the firmness needed for safe use of the ladder. Make sure that the board is stable and large enough not to sink into the ground. Never place a ladder on slippery ground
  4. The ladder must have an angle of 4 to 1: for every metre in height the base must extend out 250 mm. This will minimise the chance of the ladder falling backward or the bottom of the ladder sliding away from the wall, and is the most comfortable and safe slope for climbing and working from the ladder
  5. The ladder must extend at least one metre above the landing
  6. When climbing up or down on the ladder, always have three limbs in contact with the ladder – both feet and one hand or two hands and one foot.
  7. Never climb higher than the third rung from the top of the ladder.
  8. Use barricades or warning signs if the work from the ladder could injure others.
  9. If working near power lines or electrical hazards, the ladder must be non-conductive.
  10. Do not use ladders outside during windy days or during inclement weather
These are just some of the safety requirements that you have to be aware of in order to safely work with ladders. Contact us to find out more about this and other safety related workplace

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