Getting a grip on ladder safety

Getting a grip on ladder safety

As new regulations take large footsteps into the health and safety standards of organizations, concerns raise as different organizations improve at different speeds. This can mean that when companies fall short, they can expose themselves to occupational hazards, greater liability and reputational risk.

Talking about occupational hazards, one of the greatest in terms of severities is falling objects or fall from heights. For everyone, the focus should always be on preventing things from falling or limiting the damage after a fall. One NCBI report states that in a construction industry, falls remain the biggest cause of serious injuries.

Let us take a simple ladder. It might seem non-harming in an industrial environment, but too many people suffer annually because of ladder accidents and their misuse. Yes, for some people, the thought of climbing a ladder can be scary because the potential for falls and serious injuries becomes enough. But workers who work for sustenance in any industry do not have options.

Even for industries, ladders add to the costs of the company – their usage might not make a big difference in costs in large construction sites but are indispensable and significant at sites and projects of small budget. Especially in a country like India, where individual contractors tend to hold onto projects of small capacity due to their reduced risks.

Additional charges can incur if injuries occur.

Taking ownership of solutions and learning

Some organizations worry that fostering innovation in such cases might jeopardize safety, which many see as a source of risk. But on the contrary, one of the most effective bulwarks against accidents is the use of ‘unique awareness programs’ because it encourages employees to identify hazardous situations and propose solutions before safety is jeopardized. 

Engaging employees in the identification of problems at industrial sites and involving them in the design of solutions raises the organization’s awareness, lowers its tolerance for risk, and improves the chances of actually adopting a solution.

A best example is The Ladder Association, an organization in the United Kingdom, which holds an annual contest called ‘Idiots on Ladders’ on its social media page.

It has attempted to innovate the risk landscape by conducting unusual yet informative contests to raise awareness about the prevalence of ladder misuse.  People from all over the world have the liberty to submit photos of people using ladders inappropriately. Post review from the experts, most dangerous ladder positions are selected and posted on their page.

As safety experts, even we endeavor to educate our audience on the appropriate use of ladders because their when workers frequently use them, they run the risk of becoming complacent.

A simple step can be selecting the appropriate stepladder or extension ladder for the job. One would need a ladder that gets the person to the needed height without requiring to stand on the top rung or step. An inspection that makes sure that that the rungs, joints and feet are functional is important.

Some further considerations on which worker safety depends are –

  • How high one needs to reach?
  • How much weight will the ladder need to hold?
  • What is the environment in which the ladder will be used? Are there any electrical lines overhead?

Achieving this isn’t too difficult if emphasis is placed on correct education and training. If actions follow words, workers definitely take note.

Ultimately, one must remember that bolstering creativity isn’t necessarily at odds with robust safety procedures and high safety standards – it helps when traditional methods fail to create the necessary impact.

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