There are many occasions on a worksite when there may be a requirement to work at height. For such a job, you’ll be unsurprised to hear that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) frowns upon clambering up the nearest tall object; you’re going to need a ladder.
But once you’ve made the decision that the task requires a ladder, how do know which type to go for? There are a wide array of options and picking the wrong one could be hazardous.
Here are a few things you need to consider when choosing the right ladder for your worksite.
The first thing you should consider is what material your ladder should be made from. There are 3 basic options: wood, fiberglass, and aluminum. Though wood is less common nowadays, a fiberglass or aluminum ladder will be your best choice for most jobs.
Aluminum ladders are lighter and easier to maneuver. They are an excellent choice as long as there are no electrical sources in your work area. If there are, a metal ladder should not be chosen. Metal conducts electricity and could result in a nasty electrical shock. This is especially dangerous when working at height.
In this case, a fiberglass ladder is going to be the most suited option. They are commonly used by electricians for this exact reason.
Next, you need to make sure that you pick a ladder that’s tall enough to do the job. This may seem like obvious advice, but it can be tempting to “make do” with a ladder that isn’t the appropriate length which can be extremely dangerous.
With an extension ladder, you should pick one that extends at least 7 feet beyond the highest contact point. This will allow workers to set it up at the correct angle and not go beyond the highest standing level. Workers should not be standing any higher than the fourth rung down from the top.
For stepladders, the highest workers should be standing is the second rung down from the top. They also should not be trying to reach more than 4 feet beyond the height of the ladder. These guidelines ensure you team stays safe and minimizes the chance of a fall.
Finally, it’s important to check that the ladder will hold all required weight. Ladders are rated to indicate their maximum load capacity. All ladders on a worksite should have a duty rating sticker on the side.
Duty ratings range from light duty up to extra heavy duty. Be sure to advise workers to take their body weight into account (including any clothing and protective equipment) plus any tools they will be using on the ladder.
Personal Ladder Responsibility
Whatever ladder you choose, there are a few more things to think about. Instruct workers to give ladders a visual inspection and ensure they appear to be in good condition and up to the task before using them.
Moreover, you should also host training sessions before your team begins conducting any work at height. As an employer, you’re responsible for organizing appropriate training that will cover the points discussed in this article and more.
Ladders are valuable tools that assist many jobs. Working at height must be treated with respect to ensure the safety of all involved. By following these combined tips, you’ll be sure to keep yourself and your staff safe and secure when using ladders.
For more help on the safe use of ladders at work, contact us today.