Spread the word – tell everyone you know – ladders can be dangerous! At best they are awkward, potentially unstable, and ergonomically compromising. At worst they are a means to death or permanent disability. In the construction industry where ladder use is common they are every year one of the leading causes of death and serious injury. Ladder use is relatively infrequent in YMCAs, but in the last year two of our clients experienced ladder falls where the employee will almost certainly never return to his job.
Those were not the only ladder related incidents – people got hurt staying on a ladder when it shifted, getting off ladders, carrying ladders, and even walking by ladders. One fall was from a 3’ ladder, and some happened while using a chair or a table as a ladder.
Instead of causing possible permanent disabilities these incidents could have been fatalities. The numerous incidents that resulted in minor injuries could just as easily been much more serious. We need to approach ladder use seriously.
Any work above grade level increases the risk of injury – the greater the elevation the greater the danger. OSHA requires elevated work stations to have appropriate fall restraints such as handrails with toe and intermediate rails, but there is no required fall prevention for temporary ladders (though permanent ladders are required to be caged or used with fall-prevention gear if over 24’ tall). There are, however, several OSHA requirements that are focused on ensuring employee safety while using temporary ladders:
When you need a ladder, you need a ladder – but please use it safely. See also, our Ladder Safety fact sheet.
Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.