There is plenty of risk associated with using ladders, which is why a whole month is devoted to the topic—March is Ladder Safety Month. But while ladders can be dangerous if not used properly, both staff members and students should take extra care when working at heights. A fall from a ladder, scaffolding, loading dock or the catwalk of a theater can result in serious injury or death.
CM Regent works with many schools that submit claims for injuries from falls, and we also work with districts to help them manage their risk. The following are some best practices for fall prevention:
- Always use either a ladder or stepstool with a handle when performing a task you cannot reach from the floor. Never substitute a makeshift device, such as a chair, desk or other non-ladder. When you are climbing down, the distance from the makeshift device to the floor could be much greater than the distance from the bottom step of a ladder or stepstool, creating a potential for injury.
- Take the same care to avoid trip hazards at a height that you would on the ground level. For example:
- Eliminate clutter and debris.
- Keep extension cords out of the way of the walking path.
- Prohibit drinks or other liquid substances or, when that is impractical, require they be kept in a closed container.
- If you have uneven working surfaces, post signs and make sure everyone working at that height is aware of them.
- When using ladders, adhere to the following safety tips:
- Inspect your ladder to ensure it is not damaged.
- For straight ladders, use the 4:1 ratio rule: For every 4 feet in height, the ladder should be placed 1 foot away from the wall.
- Make sure the ladder extends at least 3 feet over a roof or platform’s edge.
- Maintain the three-point contact rule when descending your ladder: Always keep both hands and one foot, or both feet and one hand, in contact with the ladder.
- Always face your ladder when climbing or descending, and always grasp the rungs, never the side rails.
- When using personnel lifts, follow these safety tips:
- Operate equipment only when access gates or bars are securely closed.
- Occupy the platform of the personnel lift with feet on floor, and never stand on objects within the platform to gain extra reach.
- Stay within the perimeter of the platform and never climb or lean over railing.
- Use a full-body fall arrest harness with a lanyard of adequate length attached to a secure anchor of the platform.
A fall from a height can result in a devastating injury—but it is also very avoidable. Make sure your employees have the safety information they need ahead of time.
For more risk management tips on how to keep your employees safe on the job, check out these additional resources.