At some point in a warehouse worker's career, the odds are that they will have to climb a ladder to get something down from a high shelf. While many people may feel perfectly comfortable doing so, the fact of the matter is they are putting themselves at risk every time they go up. No matter how many times they've completed whatever work they needed to do safely, that next attempt could see them make a dangerous mistake.
What should you — as an experienced warehouse worker — do to ensure you're observing proper ladder safety techniques? We have some tried and true suggestions:
1) Only go on ladders if you feel like you're 100%
If you are nursing a knee injury or have symptoms of an illness that leave you feeling anything less than your best, it's better to stay away from the ladder, according to the American Ladder Institute. Even a small mistake can lead to disastrous results, so it's wise to let someone else take care of that kind of work, even if you're feeling up to other routine tasks.
2) Wear good shoes
The last thing you want as you're climbing a ladder is to have a worn-out shoe fail or slip out from under you, the American Ladder Institute warned. You should always be showing up to the warehouse in footwear that has plenty of tread and is otherwise in good shape, but this is especially important when you're dealing with ladder work.
3) Use a ladder that's the right height
Simply put, you never want to be in a situation where the ladder you're using is too tall, or especially too short, to reach the items you need, according to Occupational Health & Safety. Any warehouse operation worth its salt will have multiple ladders and lifts on hand to reach any height safely, so make sure you either use the right size option or wait for it to become available.
4) Never stand on the top two steps
Part and parcel with choosing the right height for your ladder is making sure you know not to stand on the top two steps of any ladder, OHS Online added. The reason for this is simple: It's difficult or impossible to have a solid base of support on those steps and therefore your risk of falling increases significantly.
5) Use three points of contact to climb
One of the most important rules of using a ladder is having three points of contact — that is, two feet and a hand, or two hands and a foot — between you and it at all times, according to the Home Depot. That's especially true when you're climbing, and it's just another reason standing on the top two steps is inadvisable: There's nowhere for that third point of contact to be.
6) Don't move around too much when you've stopped climbing
Once you've reached your destination on the ladder, and even if you're keeping three points of contact, it's important not to twist, bend or shift your weight in such a way that the ladder could become unstable, the Home Depot advised. Generally speaking, strive to stay as static as possible up there.
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