THE IMPORTANCE OF LADDER SAFETY
Ladder Safety - Why is it so important in this industry?
Worldwide, ladder accidents still account for a significant number of fatal falls from height because ladders are prone to slipping. Yet, a ladder remains indispensable for painting and decorating professionals in conducting their daily business. They are often the most expedient option for carrying out low-risk, short-duration tasks. The key to managing the risk is adhering to simple and sensible precautions that will keep users safe.
Choice of Ladder
There are different types of ladders, and it is important to choose the right type of ladder for every task. Various types of ladders include the single pole ladders with a maximum length of 9 metres, extension ladders with a maximum length of 15 metres, step ladders with a maximum height of 6.1 metres, dual purpose ladders with a hinged stepladder to provide an extension and platform or podium ladders. A decent step ladder is a must for professional painting and decorating jobs in order to access ceilings and the tops of walls conveniently. A section of an extension ladder may also be necessary when painting the stairwell.
Preparing to Use a Ladder
It is essential to undertake a thorough check of the ladder before putting it to use - this ensures that obvious visual defects can be detected before they can cause the ladder to buckle or collapse. Such as:
- Slippages can be avoided by checking if the feet are missing, worn or damaged.
- Bent or damaged stiles can cause the ladder to be unsafe and collapse.
- Missing or loose ladder rungs may cause the ladder to fail.
- Damaged locking mechanisms may cause a collapse of the ladder.
- Buckled or split platforms of stepladders may cause them to become unstable and if the steps are contaminated or loose they could become slippery or cause the ladder to collapse.
Tips for Minimising the Risk of Falling
- First tip is the most obvious:when using ladders, ensure that the ladder is high enough so that the task can be carried out without overreaching!
- Position the ladder at an angle of about 75° to the horizontal to reduce the risk of overbalancing when getting on or off the ladder. This is called the 1 in 4 rule because it places the ladder 1 unit out for every 4 units up.
- Don’t stand ladders on movable objects, and ensure that the feet make contact with smooth and solid surface.
- When climbing up or descending the ladder, it is essential to maintain a firm grip of the ladder and to consider using a tool belt so as to avoid holding items when climbing. Face the rungs of the ladder when moving up or down and avoid sliding down the stiles.
- Don’t work off the top three rungs of a ladder and don’t move or extend the ladder while standing on the rungs.
- Carry only light tools and materials necessary for use on the task at hand and ensure that the belt buckle stays within the stiles.
Ladder safety devices can be used to improve ladder stability. Unlike most ladder safety devices which secure the feet of the ladder, there are now new devices called ladder grips which aim to make the top of the ladder immobile, so that the feet are also unlikely to move, making it much safer to use for working at height, including for professional painting and decorating.