Summer heat records are being broken across the country this year, which means it’s more important than ever to take steps to prevent heat illness in your crew. Make sure you read these essential heat safety tips from Paul Watkins, a Texan Golf Course Superintendent who’s well-versed in battling sweltering humidity and 100°+ conditions at
Ladders are indispensable in golf maintenance, so it’s very important that all employees on the team are aware of how to safely use a ladder. Most people have used a ladder at some point in their lives, however, few people know how to use a ladder safely. In fact, thousands of ladder accidents occur each year, and hundreds of those accidents result in death. Ladder accidents in the workplace are common, but they’re also very preventable.
In order to prevent accidents, everyone who uses ladders should know how to properly select, inspect, and operate a ladder.
First, Pick the Right Ladder Type
There are several different kinds of ladders designed for different tasks, and it’s very important that the right type of ladder is used for the task.
Some of the types of ladders are: step stools, step ladders, and extension ladders. To select the right ladder to consider:
- The first thing to consider is the ladder height required for the job. One of the most common mistakes is to select a ladder that is too short for the task at hand. This leads to employees standing on the top two steps of a step ladder (bad idea) or overreaching on other types of ladders (another bad idea). If a ladder is leaning against a building it should be at least three feet or two rungs higher than the building it’s resting against.
- The second thing to consider is body weight. Every ladder will clearly indicate its weight capacity. Employees should make sure that the combined weight of their body and the tools they will carry do not exceed the ladder’s maximum carry weight.
- The third thing to consider is the ladder’s material. Some of the common materials ladders are made of are wood, fibreglass and metal. The important one to watch out for is metal because it’s a conductive material. It’s important that metal ladders are not used near energy sources, as it increases the risk of electrical arcing.
It’s very important to check the ladder’s condition every time you use it. A faulty ladder cannot be used safely, so everyone on the team should be trained on how to inspect the ladder prior to using it.
- Damaged side rails
- Bent or corroded metal
Make sure that:
- Steps are properly secured
- Spreaders and locking devices are functioning correctly
- All the rungs and feet are non-slip
- Nuts and bolts are secure
- All sides of the ladder are clean
- There is no grease, oil solvents etc. on the rungs or sides of the ladder
- Wooden ladders are not painted
If any irregularities like the above are noticed, the ladder should be removed from service immediately. Technically you can make repairs to ladders but with the number of lawsuits regarding ladders we recommend throwing defective ladders away and purchasing new if they need repair.
Ladder Safety Guidelines
Among the most common hazards associated with ladders are slips, trips, falls, electric shock and ladder tip over. Most ladder accidents can be prevented by ensuring that everyone on the team is trained to use ladders correctly.
The following measures will greatly reduce the risk of ladder accidents:
- Wear sturdy shoes that are clean and free of elements that cause slips
- Always wear PPE
- Put the ladder on a firm, level ground
- Always face the ladder
- Always maintain 3 points of contact
- Do not carry objects up or down the ladder
- Set the ladder at the right angle
- Follow the belt buckle rule: keep your belt buckle positioned between the side rails at all times
- Always have a coworker near to watch out and hold ladder if needed
- If using an extension ladder, secure the top of the ladder before climbing. Make sure the top of the ladder is 3’ above the top of the building or the structure you are going to climb over and use the 4-1 rule in the graphic to set up the ladder properly.
It’s the superintendent’s responsibility to have a safety plan, train employees on ladder safety practices and ensure that ladder inspections are performed.
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