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Fall Protection - Ladder Safety Tips
This Fall protect yourself from falling off the ladder during cleaning of gutters. According to a 2014 CDC data 43% of fatal falls nationwide in the last decade have involved a ladder. Overall among workers, falls are a leading cause of injuries. Approximately 15% to 20% of fall injuries at the workplace involved ladders. Of these, according to OSHA, 50% of ladder related accidents were related to persons carrying items as they climbed.
Here are some quick tips to keep top of mind when using a ladder:
- Always let someone know you will be using a ladder to work on your gutters.
- Have a spotter around when on the ladder and cleaning the gutter.
- Use the right ladder that is tall enough to do the job.
- Make sure the ladder is in good condition, sturdy, free of defects, has no loose parts, and is rated for the weight to be placed on it.
- When opening up a step ladder, make sure the extension-hinge arms are fully extended and locked in place.
- Ensure that the ladder is on stable ground. All the feet need to be on stable ground. For houses on hills, one may need to use ladders with adjustable legs.
- If the ground is wet and muddy, make sure the ladder’s feet are stable on the ground and the ladder is secure before climbing.
- For an extension ladder ensure the angle of the ladder is adequate so it will not slip or slide. A simple rule of thumb for ladder positioning: If you can stand with your toes at the ladder feet and reach straight out with your hands to touch the rungs with your fingertips, you’ve got the right angle
- Follow the belt buckle rule when climbing up and down the ladder: keep the belt buckle between the rails.
- Always have three points of contact when climbing up and down the ladder.
- Do not carry items as you climb up the ladder. Use a tool belt to secure tools and climb.
- For raising and lowering buckets, use a lanyard tied to the handle of the bucket and make sure there is a stable ledge or a shelf on the ladder that is strong enough to support the bucket.
- Do not step on the rung of the stepladder that says “THIS IS NOT A STEP”.
- Do not stand on the top few rungs of the ladder. Always leave yourself enough room at the top of the ladder to be able to hold the sides rails of the ladder.
- Do not lean too far on the side to clean the gutter. This is a leading cause of falling off ladders while cleaning gutters. Climb down and reposition the ladder securely rather than risk falling off the ladder.
- If you are cleaning gutters for long time, muscle fatigue can set in from cleaning and moving the ladder numerous times. So pace yourself accordingly.
- Don’t work near or around power lines. They may be uninsulated. Extreme caution including the right ladder (fiberglass) is needed around power lines.
- Remember each situation is different, so plan ahead of time. There are various types of ladders and tools available to fit specific needs and it is worth the effort to find the right ladder and tools for the task.
Clean Earth takes the safety and well-being of our employees seriously. To find out more about what its like working on our team visit the Clean Earth Careers.
Author: Jayanti Chatterjee, CIH, PMP, CSP – Director of Health & Safety