Using ladders is a common and necessary tool in the construction industry. Crew members climb ladders many times in a day, exposing workers to falls with each step taken. Falls can be fatal and are one of the leading causes of injuries and death in the construction industry. Some workers may climb ladders many times each day and can become very comfortable doing so. Climbing can become as easy to some workers as walking up steps to the average person. This comfort can lead to complacency.
Before stepping foot on a ladder, remember to: Stop, Think, and Remind yourself it only takes a split second to fall. Many deaths occur each year from falling less than 10 feet. Don't get complacent! Ladder falls are preventable - properly climbing and set up are key. Always remember to set your ladder up on a level surface, use the 4:1 ratio, avoid obstructions and high traffic areas, and always maintain a distance of at least 10 feet from power lines. When climbing, always maintain three points of contact, extend portable ladders a minimum of 36" above the roof edge and don't forget to secure the ladder.
Ryan Gibson, Western & Southern Safety Director, Lenexa, KS
Roof falls are one of the greatest hazards on construction sites. In the roofing industry it probably is the number one hazard and the accident that results in the largest amount of fatalities. Fall hazard recognition is critical in protecting workers. The key to fall hazard recognition is training; employers must train their associates to recognize fall hazards and how to utilize fall protection to protect themselves from the recognized hazards.
The most common roofing fall hazards are unprotected edges, bad decking, open holes/skylights and falls from a ladder. When unprotected edges, bad decking, open holes/skylights expose workers to a fall of six feet or greater a warning line system must be set up six feet or greater from the edge or a personal fall arrest system must be utilized.
Examples of additional fall protection methods when working with open hole and/or skylights hazards is the installation of a cover that is secured, marked “hole” or “cover” and is able to support twice the expected load. A vast majority of ladder fall hazards are created by the user with improper setup and improper use.
Examples of improper setup are: ladders not setup at the proper ¼ angle, not being properly secured, side rails not extending three feet beyond the roof edge when used for access.
Examples of improper use include: working from the top two steps of a ladder, using a step ladder in a closed position and not maintaining three points of contact while on a ladder.
Ladders should ALWAYS be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and be inspected prior to use.
Chad Mumaw, Safety Manager, Hendersonville, TN