When an employee needs to reach a higher work area, the equipment that will be used must be evaluated for both function and safety. While a ladder is commonly used, it might not always be the right choice for the work.
On September 5, 2005, a 27-year-old male construction worker was removing aluminum siding while standing on an aluminum ladder on the west side of a house he and his two coworkers were remodeling. The ladder was positioned over a cyclone gate and fence of a neighboring home. It appears that while he was removing the siding, he lost his balance and fell. One of his coworkers was carrying debris to the dumpster on east side of the home. He heard the victim moan. He returned to the victim’s work location and found his coworker’s midsection folded over the gate. The victim’s head and legs were not touching the ground. His midsection was lying across the end cap of the gate, which was about two inches higher than the gate’s top bar. He was also lying across a small nut and bolt, which was about one inch above the top bar. The ladder he was working from was standing against the house, still positioned over the gate. The victim rolled off the gate and landed on the ground. He told his coworker to call 911. His coworker panicked and began to yell for help. A neighbor heard the calls for help and called 911. A passerby provided emergency first aid until emergency response arrived. The victim was transported to a local hospital where he was declared dead.
The cause of death as stated on the death certificate was blunt force abdominal trauma. No autopsy was performed. The results of the toxicology tests were negative for alcohol and other screened drugs.
1. The ladder was not placed at a safe angle.
2. The ladder used did not have safety feet nor was the ladder secured.
3. It appeared that the gate was being used to help support the ladder. The moveable gate was not secured against movement.
Ask these questions before deciding on a ladder:
If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” then you may need to consider using something other than a ladder. If possible, bring in other equipment such as a scissor lift or scaffolding.
Portable ladders help you access a work area or provide support while you work. Portable ladders make getting to a work area easy, but they can increase the potential for falls if not used properly. Portable ladders are versatile, economical, and easy to use. However, workers sometimes use them without thinking safety. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that 20 percent of fatal falls at work occur from heights less than 15 feet (4.5 m), and 50 percent of fatal falls are from a height less than 35 feet (10.6 m).
Here are some OSHA requirements for using portable ladders:
We use ladders to do all sorts of tasks, so it's not surprising that many types of ladders are available. Let's look at the most common types.
It's important to choose the right ladder for the right job. Using a ladder for a task that it was not designed for may increase the risk of falling.
Before using a ladder, a competent person must inspect the ladder for visible defects, such as broken or missing rungs. If a defective ladder is found, it must be immediately marked with a defective sign or clearly labeled with a “Do Not Use” sign. It should then be taken from service until it is completely repaired.
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