During the past five years (from October 2013 to October 2018), the world church has incurred over $600,000 in claims due to accidents involving the use of ladders. Injuries and even death can occur from the misuse of a ladder. The following safety tips and pertinent information may help prevent serious injury or death while using a ladder.
Choosing a LadderAssessing the task at hand and determining the type of ladder needed is the first step in maintaining safety. If hanging a picture on the wall or placing something on a high shelf, a step stool or step ladder may be appropriate. When painting a room with eight-foot ceilings, a taller step ladder may be needed. For work at more considerable heights, an extension ladder is used. Some tasks may require a different style of ladder.
The conditions in which you will use the ladder is also a critical factor in selecting the best option. Ladders are made from different materials including wood, metal, and fiberglass. Wood ladders are more substantial than both metal and fiberglass and can provide a sturdier foundation. However, wood can become slick when wet and splinter with prolonged use. Metal ladders are much lighter than wood and more durable. Yet they should not be used in an environment where electrical currents are active. Fiberglass, as with metal ladders, is also very durable. Additionally, they do not conduct electricity and are quite versatile.
Safety Practices for Ladder UsageWith the task and conditions determined, consider the following ladder safety practices.
- Read and follow all manufacturer’s labels, markings, and instructions.
- Avoid electrical hazards. Look for overhead power lines and never use a metal ladder near any exposed, energized electrical equipment or power lines.
- Inspect ladders for damage before use. If the ladder is damaged, remove it from use and tag it as such until repaired. If the ladder is beyond repair, discard it immediately.
- When climbing a ladder, always maintain three points of contact: two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand. Always face the ladder when climbing and keep your body near the center of the steps.
- Use ladders and appropriate accessories only (jacks, hooks, ropes, and ladder levelers) for their specific designated purposes.
- Keep rungs, steps, and feet of the ladder free of any slippery material.
- Never stand on the top rung or step of a ladder unless it is specifically designed to be used.
- Only use stable, level surfaces for a ladder unless it has been adequately secured at the bottom or top to prevent movement.
- Never try to obtain extra height by placing the ladder on barrels, boxes, or any other unstable base.
- Do not shift or move a ladder while it is in use.
- When using an extension or straight ladder to access an elevated surface, the ladder must extend a minimum three feet above the point of support. Follow the manufacturer’s labeling concerning how high to stand on the ladder.
- Place the ladder’s base one-quarter of its working length from the wall or another vertical surface.
- A ladder used in areas where it can be displaced by other working activities must be either adequately secured or barricaded to prevent displacement and keep all traffic at a safe distance.
- Make sure all locks of an extension ladder are correctly engaged.
- Never exceed the maximum weight or load rating of the ladder. This is calculated by adding the weight of the user the ladder is supporting to the weight of any tools and equipment.