If your warehouse utilizes ladders — whether it's only on occasion or on a daily basis — you probably need to do more than you realize to ensure these devices are used safely whenerver they're needed. A large percentage of workplace injuries and even deaths happen because workers fall from sometimes significant heights, and if you can reduce that risk with safer ladder use, it's well worth the effort.
The following tips should be part of any broader ladder safety training effort, to ensure your workplace stays accident-free on an ongoing basis:
1) Inspect it closely
First and foremost, workers need to make sure their ladders are in good shape before using them, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This shouldn't take more than a brief once-over, but it's vital to spotting any issues that could indicate a ladder must not be used.
2) Always have three points of contact with the ladder
Whenever a worker is climbing a ladder, they should make sure they are touching it with three of their four hands and feet, OSHA advised. That is, if they have one hand off, the other one and both feet should be securely on one of the rungs. That way, the odds that they lose their balance and fall are kept to a minimum.
3) Don't stand on the top two steps
Ladders tend to be less safe as you try to balance higher up on them, according to Werner. As such, workers should avoid standing on the second rung from the top — as it's harder to keep three points of contact — and should never stand on the top of the ladder for any reason.
4) Don't carry items up with you
Another thing that makes it difficult or impossible to maintain three points of contact is carrying something (such as a rope or bucket) as they climb, Werner said. For that reason, workers should plan to climb the ladder on their own, and then use a rope or even pulley system to lift whatever they need to the new height.
5) Have someone hold the ladder while you're on it
This is one of the ladder safety tips that almost everyone knows but all too often ignores, Werner further added. Workers should absolutely have a buddy system in place when they use ladders, with one person holding it steady while the other climbs. That will also help when it comes to passing up items that may be needed.
6) Take it slow
It may occasionally seem like workers have a good reason to hurry up a ladder, but there are plenty of reasons why that's a bad idea, according to SafeStart. Workers should always take it one step or rung at a time and remember their training, so that they're set up for success and safety.
7) Don't go up if you feel fatigued
Climbing up and down from a ladder can take more energy than you might realize, so workers need to check in with themselves to make sure they're up to the task, SafeStart said. If they feel tired, it's better to be safe than sorry, and have someone else go up instead.