Every year thousands of people are injured and hundreds are killed. By understanding the causes of ladder accidents the vast majority could be prevented.
• Kneeling/crouching • Heavy Lifting • Ladder climbing/stairs Kneeling/crouching The act of kneeling causes many problems biomechanically and physiologically. First off, in prolonged instances, this crouching represents a static muscular effort to prevent the body from tipping over while bringing the body lower towards the ground (lowering the centre of gravity).
Ladder injuries short of falling are defined as static muscular effort as:
1. a high level of effort maintained for 10 seconds or more;
2. a moderate effort persists for 1 minute or more;
3. A slight effort (about one third of maximum force) lasts for 4 minutes or more. Ladder Climbing Another requirement of the job is ladder climbing, which can be highly stressful on the knees.
The worker places pressure on the knees when climbing and carrying tools or other heavy items. Also, stabilization of the knee is important because the worker performs wiring above the head and shoulder level on a constant basis. The worker must also climb stairs on occasion, while lifting heavy components. This also place extreme pressure on the knees.
· More than 90,000 people receive emergency room treatment from ladder-related injuries every year
· Elevated falls account for almost 700 occupational deaths annually
· These deaths account for 15% of all occupational deaths
· OH&S believes 100% of all ladder accidents could be prevented if proper attention to equipment and climber training were provided
· Over the last 10 years the amount of ladder-related injuries has increased 50%
· And 50% of all ladder-related accidents were due to individuals carrying items as they climbed
· The most common type of ladder-related injury, with 32%, is fractures
Types of Ladder Accidents
Ladder accidents are extremely common even though they are entirely preventable. Ladder accidents can come from a wide variety of issues but the following four causes account for the vast majority. If these simple loss prevention tips for each cause are followed, ladder accidents could almost be eliminated.
1. Selecting the Wrong Type of Ladder
Like most other jobs, choosing the right tool can make all the difference when it comes to safety and this is the same for ladders. One thing to consider when selecting an appropriate ladder is the ladder’s weight capacity. Each ladder is designed to support a maximum weight limit and if the climber exceeds that limit the ladder could break and cause the user to fall or become injured.
Another consideration when selecting the appropriate ladder for a job is the necessary height of the ladder. Many injuries occur due to ladders being too short for a specific task, and instead of selecting a new ladder for the job, workers will place the ladder on something to extend its reach or will stand on the top rung to gain the necessary height. Both scenarios are extremely dangerous and can result in serious injuries.
2. Using Worn or Damaged Ladders
Another common contributing factor to ladder accidents is the use of old, worn, or damaged ladders. Like everything else, ladders have a shelf life; after a couple of years the stress of being climbed up and down on causes ladders to break down. Damaged ladders are extremely dangerous as they can easily break while being used and cause serious injuries.
To protect yourself from damaged or broken ladders, make sure to thoroughly inspect each ladder before using it. If any damage is found, do not use the ladder until it has been safely repaired to the manufacturer’s specifications or it has been replaced.
3. Incorrect Use of Ladders
Human error is by far the leading cause of ladder accidents. Never use a ladder in any other way than what the manufacturer intended it to be used for. Also, do not lengthen or alter a ladder in any way.
While using a ladder always maintain 3 points of contact with the ladder to ensure stability. Also, never attempt to reach for something while on the ladder. It is much safer to get off the ladder, move it, and then climb back up.
4. Incorrect Placement of Ladders
Make sure that when positioning a ladder, the ground you place it on is level and firm. Ladders should never be placed in front of a door that is not locked, blocked, or guarded.
A good practice to ensure a ladder is secure is to always have a helper support the base while a ladder is being used. If the ladder can not be held by someone else, make sure it has an appropriate foot to prevent it from slipping. The feet of the ladder can be staked if you are using a ladder outside and no one is available to support the feet of the ladder.