The cold weather time of year that brings about colourful foliage is the only sort of fall that we should have to prepare ourselves for. The IHSA Service Sector Health & Safety Committee receives regularly updated report on the monthly casualties in the province of Ontario from the Ministry of Labour – and the biggest problem, report after report, is injuries due to the other sort of fall. Between May 1st 2006 until May 1st 2010, there were 396 critical injuries reported by the Ministry of Labour Construction Health and Safety Program. Of these 396 cases, 127 were ladder related. 10 of these incidents were fatal. (“Ladder Use in Construction Guideline”1)
The reality is that many don’t understand the potential dangers associated with improper use of ladders. Most people view ladders as an easy convenience and do not pay them the respect they deserve in terms of their safety. Statistics don’t lie – ladders and stepladders are the biggest cause of injuries every month – and some of them are very serious!
We must all take the time to ensure that ladders and stepladders are in good condition, are properly deployed, and properly used. For ladders we must remember to use the three-point connection when climbing. This means not carrying items in our hand. If you need an item to work with while on the ladder, then it should go on your back if it is light, or be hauled up by a rope when you attain the correct height.
Common problems regarding ladders and stepladders is not ensuring the area at the base is clear of debris, and many forget to make sure their footwear does not have a slippery sole. Most people ignore all best practices, thinking that they will never become a statistic.
Watch Your Step
For stepladders, which we all assume are easy and safe to use, there are common problems where workers don’t fully extend the spacer bars, stand on the top step, or even on the pail shelf. All of these things are unsafe practices and contribute to the monthly report of falls and accidents.
Take the extra time to use ladders and stepladders properly, and to pay special attention to safety issues before using them. It is important that, if you are in charge of any work operation, you have a detailed Safety Sheet to properly instruct any workers who might use a ladder or stepladder in the safe way to use and operate them – and make sure that they sign off to say that they have read and understood the instructions. Documentation is very important if there is an accident and you need to prove the worker was properly instructed in the use of ladders.
Ladders and stepladders are multiuse “tools” that we use every day, but we have to pay extra attention when they’re used in order to prevent those all-too-easy accidents from occurring. Let’s make an effort to reduce the statistics and work safely!
To find out how we can help you with your next project, call us toll free at 1-888-348-8991.
1Ontario Provincial Labour-Management Health & Safety Committee. Ladder Use in Construction Guideline. Mississauga, Ontario: 2012. Web. www.ihsa.ca