MARCH IS LADDER SAFETY MONTH
Let’s talk ladders. We could harness are inner Bubba and list all the ladders like he did with ways to cook shrimp in Forest Gump, but I will assume if you are reading this you know that there are several types of ladders. At MC Tool & Safety Sales we stock Werner step and extension ladders at our warehouse in Blaine, MN and have access to get all types including manhole ladders. I think because we have so much exposure to ladders, we have them at home, they are used daily in our warehouses or offices, that we forget they can be really dangerous. So today, our main goal is to get you to look a little harder at your daily use ladder safety AND plan for upgrading any ladders because OSHA put out some new rules.
FIRST, MY DAD’S STORY ABOUT FALLING
You all hear from me enough, so we are going to let my father, who is also my business partner, tell a story for a change (you may see more of this, he is a wealth of knowledge…)
My most vivid memory of a stepladder goes back to the 60’s. As a teenager I was offered a Saturday job by a family friend in the remodeling business. “Help me knock off some stucco so I can put an addition on a customer’s house.” I needed money so of course I agreed. I got to the job, climbed the scaffolding, and began hammering at the outside wall as instructed. Suddenly I found myself falling, my eyes focused on the top of a stepladder that I am headed directly towards. My stomach took the brunt of the fall and luckily (being in post season wrestling shape) all that happened was that I had the wind knocked out of me. I was extremely fortunate.
None of this was the ladder’s fault. My boss and I were focused on getting to the task at hand, consequently the kind of safety preparation and instruction I received was sorely lacking. Ladder usage has not changed much in all this time but thankfully, proper ladder safety tips, training and instructions are more easily obtained.
Manufacturers now have great resources available to help users and their employers obtain the information on proper use and care of climbing equipment. Visit this link to access Werner’s training videos. Or sign up for your own training here.
LET’S FOCUS ON LADDERS FIRST, SAFETY TOO
Fixed ladders are permanently attached to a structure, building or your equipment. The new OSHA rule phases in new regulations for any ladder extending more than 24 feet. You must phase out the use of cages and wells by November 19, 2036.
You will be compliant when you install a cable system and a cable sleeve with a carabiner like this one from FallTech. (By the way, it’s not on our website YET, but we have it!) Even if you already have a cable system, you might need a new cable sleeve, these work with any 3/8″ cable.
New and innovative items coming will be coming out, be sure to check out our website as we get closer to 2036. But the big thing is IF you are installing a NEW LADDER then make sure you will be compliant. Call MC Tool & Safety Sales if you have any questions.
MORE TOOLS FOR LADDER SAFETY
Portable ladders come in many sizes and styles, you’ll find mostly step-ladders and extension ladders from Werner in our Blaine, MN warehouse. These ladders all come with safety stickers, but did you know that your ladder might be missing this? OSHA really likes when these are clean and neat looking, and of course, present. There are several kits available, so make sure your ladder rating matches your sticker set.
There are several other types of ladders too, we have telescoping ladders (these use the same sticker set I mentioned above) and manhole ladders, if you are not familiar, these are more narrow, have a rail shield and shoes to protect the bottom rails from damage. In addition, these are typically rated for 375lbs and readily available in 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 foot lengths.
LADDER SAFETY INSPECTIONS
What is the best way to inspect a ladder? Closely 🙂 But seriously, check all the components closely, looking at the rungs and rails for twisting or corroding or potential fail spots. SG World has a wonderful suite of products geared for safety inspections, including a great one for ladder safety. But in all honesty, it can be as easy as a tag on the item.
Take the time to inspect every part of the ladder before each use! You can make the call not to use it. #EveryoneHomeSafe
OTHER CLIMBING SAFETY – SCAFFOLDING
OSHA’s scaffolding standard has many key elements, you need to take away a couple things from this portion. First, be sure your COMPETENT PERSON is well trained and second, have a CHECKLIST. It’s just a visual clue and reference for your inspection and helps to keep you from missing something important
Back to the key elements of scaffold safety:
- Fall protection or fall arrest systems for anyone working above 10 feet off the next level
- Guardrail height must be between 38″ and 48″ high
- Crossbracing used as a toprail must also be between 38″ and 48″ high
- Midrails must be installed approximately halfway between the toprail and the platform, when a crosspoint of a crossbracing is used as a midrail, it must be between 20″ and 30″ off the platform
- Footings must be level and capable of supporting loaded scaffold
- Platforms must be fully planked or decked
- Guying ties and braces – scaffolding with a height-to-base of more than 4:1 must be restrained from tipping
- Capacity – they must support at least 4 times the max intended load
- Training – employers must train each employee working on the scaffold of the hazards and procedures to control the hazards
- Inspections by a competent person must be completed before each work shift and after any occurrence that could affect the structural integrity
- Erecting and dismantling – a competent person must determine the feasibility of providing a safe means on access and fall protection for erecting and dismantling the system.
OSHA has a great site for more in depth information on these products, check out this guide. OSHA MN folks are happy to help when you have questions too.
You can prevent fall hazards at work. It all starts here, get in touch today and we will help you with your plan to keep everyone safe when working at heights.
CONTACT MC TOOL & SAFETY FOR TOP-NOTCH SAFETY EQUIPMENT
Big shout out to my dad, Ken, for providing insight into todays content!