Every day, 137 people are injured using a ladder, resulting in 113 yearly deaths. Most of these incidents occurred from working only 6-10 feet off the ground. Ladder risks are not isolated to only home projects, nor are they only a risk on the jobsite. All ladder users are at risk of injury if proper care, attention, and procedures are not appropriately taken.
Week Two: Safety Before the First Step (Inspection and Set Up)
Week Three: Safety While Climbing
Week Four: Safety at the Top
Week Five: Ladder Safety Misconceptions
The professionals throughout all PLH Group business units perform a variety of energy-focused construction work. From descending into a natural gas pipeline trench to performing overhead power line services, ladders are used daily across PLH Group projects. Proper usage and care of these important tools are crucial to the safety of the organization’s workers.
“With the safety of our employees our greatest focus, we train all employees during new hire orientation on the proper use of tools, including ladder usage. We also encourage safe and open communication throughout and across all of our teams,” said Elsie Bentley, vice president of Safety, Health, and Environmental. “We give all employees the responsibility and authority to stop work if they see an unsafe situation unraveling, stopping it before anyone is put in harm’s way. This encourages workers to watch out for the safety of one another, ensuring that everyone returns home safely at the end of each day.”
Thoroughly inspecting your ladder before each use is just as important as properly using the correct ladder for the job and environment.
An effective safety conversation encourages workers to question and discuss the team’s work. The following common questions can be used to start your team’s ladder safety conversation during toolbox talks and pre-job meetings:
How do I choose the appropriate ladder? Choosing the wrong ladder for the task is the leading cause of ladder accidents. Material and ladder size are two leading factors to consider when choosing a ladder. For instance, since fiberglass doesn’t conduct electricity, it is the ideal ladder to use when working around electricity.
Additionally, the American Ladder Institute recommends the following:
Example usage: Retrieving something from a shelf just out of reach
Recommended for projects under eight feet
Never step on the top cap
Example usage: Changing smoke alarm batteries
Most common type of ladder
Example usage: Cleaning gutters
Never use the top three rungs
The ladder should extend at least three feet above the upper contact point if stepping onto an elevated surface
Example usage: Work above staircase
Take time to properly set up the ladder so the position and height are appropriate for the task
How do I know how much weight the ladder can support?
A ladder’s Duty Rating identifies the maximum weight a ladder can safely support. This weight is not just the weight of the user. To determine how much weight your ladder must support, add your weight plus the weight of your clothing and PPE, tools carried while on the ladder, and tools and supplies stored on the ladder.
How should I inspect a ladder?
Users should inspect the ladder before each use. The ALI Ladder Inspection Checklist reminds workers to thoroughly examine rails, hardware, rungs, ropes, locks, pulleys, and shoes prior to usage. Discuss additional considerations with your team specific to your jobsite environment.
Additional tips to discuss as a team include:
Ensure the ladder is on a firm, non-slippery surface.
Avoid the risk of slipping by first cleaning shoes and rungs.
Maintain three points of contact when ascending or descending a ladder.
Face the ladder when climbing.
Ensure that the environment surrounding the ladder will not interfere with the ladder, such as a door opening and pushing the ladder.
Do not overreach. If you have to extend your center of gravity beyond the center of the ladder, the ladder should be moved or a new ladder should be chosen for the task.
The two most common causes of ladder incidents result from missing the last rung and overreaching.
PLH Group employees do not only receive safety training, but are also given the authority to speak up or stop a task if safety is at risk. From climbing ladders to performing hot work, PLH Group business units ensure the safety of all employees by continuously looking out for one another.