Many workers throughout Ohio use ladders at their jobs – at grocery stores, warehouses, construction sites and many other workplaces. Ladders are an essential tool to help them do their jobs. When there’s an accident, however, workers can be left with broken bones, shoulder injuries, head injuries and other types of injuries.
Your employer is responsible for implementing policies and procedures to help keep you safe. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when using a ladder.
What should I know about ladder safety?
Use the right ladder for the task you’re doing
There are many types of ladders. These include step ladders, multi-position ladders, extension and straight ladders and platform ladders. All come in different sizes and are designed to help you perform certain tasks. Choosing the right ladder for what you are doing reduces the risk of falling and being injured.
In some jobs, the material used to make the ladder also matters. Aluminum ladders can be very useful for many tasks but can be dangerous when working near electricity. In those cases, a fiberglass ladder is recommended.
Inspect the ladder
Is your ladder safe to use? You won’t know until you inspect it yourself. Take a minute to check it out. Look for dents, cracks and fiberglass bloom. Are the treads of the feet in good shape? If a ladder seems like it might be unsafe, don’t use it.
Check the leveling
If you climb a ladder and it feels off-centered, it is not safe. On a 19-inch ladder, being one inch off level at the base causes a 9-inch lean at the top. Leveling a ladder can be more difficult if you are working outdoors. In those cases, use an integrated leg leveler to stabilize the ladder.
How can I prevent a ladder accident?
Keep three points of contact
This helps keep you maintain stability while you are on the ladder. Points of contact often involve the hands, feet or knees. For example, keeping both feet on the same step of a ladder, and a hand or a knee resting on the ladder. Using fewer than three points of contact makes it more likely that you will lose balance.
Many accidents happen this way – a worker is on a ladder and is trying to get to something that is just out of reach. So the workers leans up or forward to try to get to it. Too often, the result is that the worker falls and becomes injured. If something is out of reach, come down the ladder safely. Then move the ladder into a better position.
Use the 4-1 ratio
This is an important rule to remember when using extension ladders. For every four feet of ladder length, the base of the ladder should be one foot away from the wall. For example, if your ladder is extended to 8 feet, the base should be two feet away from the wall. This helps maintain stability and helps prevent the ladder from sliding out.
Watch your step
This one seems obvious, but it’s something that plays a role in many ladder injuries. When you’re rushing to get a task done, you may come down the ladder and accidentally miss the bottom rung or step. You can fall and injure yourself. When climbing up or down a ladder, take careful and deliberate steps.
What should I do if I fall off a ladder at work?
If you are injured in a ladder accident, there are two things you need to do. You need to see a doctor who can treat your injuries. You also need to notify your employer that you were hurt in a workplace accident. We recommend notifying your employer in writing to help provide documentation.
You can also file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits include coverage of your medical expenses and partial wages if you are unable to return to work for a period of time. Check with your employer to see if a claim was filed on your behalf or if you need to complete a First Report of Injury (FROI) form.
The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Hochman & Plunkett can guide you through the claim process every step of the way and fight to ensure you get the benefits you deserve. If you’ve been hurt on the job, contact us to schedule a free consultation.