Experts offer advice on preventing on-the-job injuries
Every year, more than 300 people die in ladder-related accidents. Thousands more suffer disabling injuries. To help combat the problem, the American Ladder Institute (ALI) has declared March 2017 the first National Ladder Safety Month.
For example, according to a National Safety Council report, in 2013 more than 175,000 people were injured on ladders severely enough to require a trip to the hospital. Of all occupational injuries, falls are the second leading cause of death next to highway crashes. Workers in the construction industry are most at risk.
“Without better training and continuous innovation in safety, planning and product design, we will continue to see far too many fatalities,” says Ryan Moss, ALI president and CEO of Little Giant Ladder Systems. “National Ladder Safety Month will heighten awareness, reinforce safety training, and educate homeowners and working professionals. The American Ladder Institute is calling upon all individuals and organizations throughout the nation to promote and to participate in ladder safety.”
Contractors have the dual responsibility of protecting both workers and clients. Fortunately, there are simple steps that can be taken to help ensure safety when ladders are in use.
“While it is important that signs are posted around the work zone … the key to ensuring safety in your building starts with the proper selection and use of the ladder,” Moss says. “There are many types of ladders available, and they all have a different purpose and use. The ladder user should be well versed in how to identify the right ladder for the job as well as know ladder safety basics, including proper inspection of the ladder, prior to starting the job. “It’s important to make sure you have a conversation with your contractor or employees about ladder safety and training prior to the start of any work taking place.”
Moss adds that a 2016 research study by ALI, a nonprofit founded in 1947 to promote safe ladder, showed the two most common causes of ladder accidents are overreaching and missing the last step when climbing down.
“Making sure your contractor, their team or your employees are properly trained in ladder safety is key to preventing these common ladder-related injuries,” he says. “The 2016 ALI research study revealed that 75 percent of participants felt that ladder accidents in the workplace could have been avoided with proper ladder safety training.”
Matthew Giraudi, lumber supervisor at Hardware Hawaii, offers additional tips for ladder safety.
“Have another guy at the bottom to keep the ladder stable,” he says. “Don’t use the top two steps. Be sure to always put the ladder away as soon as you’re done.”
If working with electrical systems, Giraudi strongly recommends using a fiberglass ladder to minimize the risk of shock. Chris Filardi, vice president of marketing for Werner, also stresses the importance of choosing the right ladder.
“Ladder safety begins with selecting the right ladder for the job,” he says. “Choosing the appropriate ladder depends on a number of factors including style, reach height, duty rating and material. “Regardless of the project, all maintenance professionals should inspect their ladders before each use.”
For more information about National Ladder Safety Month, visit www.laddersafetymonth.com
Bosworth, Brandon. “Step Up to Ladder Safety.” Building Industry Hawaii, March 2017, 57-59.
Contributing Author: Brandon Bosworth, Building Industry Hawaii Magazine
National Ladder Safety Month is the only movement dedicated exclusively to the promotion of ladder safety, at home and at work. During March 2017, National Ladder Safety Month will bring heightened awareness to the importance of the safe use of ladders through resources, training and a national dialogue. The American Ladder Institute, the only approved developer of safety standards for the U.S. ladder industry, is the presenting sponsor of National Ladder Safety Month. For more information visit www.laddersafetymonth.com and get involved on social media using #laddersafetymonth.