As a superintendent, you juggle many responsibilities, and the safety of your crew is right at the top of the list. Your team works around sources of hazardous energy daily, posing risks of electric shocks, entanglement, and faulty combustion engines. In fact, nearly 10% of serious accidents in the workplace are a result of the
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 consider:
- The first thing to consider is the ladder height required for the job. There are specific height requirements for each ladder, so employees should be trained on the height requirements for each job, as well as the correct ladder for each task.
- 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, fiberglass 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.
Inspecting the Ladder
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 remove from service immediately. Technically you can make repairs to the ladder but with the number of lawsuits regarding ladders I 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 caused due to incorrect usage:
- 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 gave a coworker near to watch and hold ladder if needed
- If using an extension ladder, secure the top of the ladder before climbing. Make sure the top is 3’ above the top if you going to climb over it 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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