Using ladders and stairways is essential to construction work, especially when working on buildings or bridges with heights that need to be reached. Unfortunately, it is estimated that there are 24,882 annual injuries due to falls from ladders and stairways.
Over half of these injuries required construction workers to take time off. With the labor shortage, most construction companies cannot afford to have skilled craftworkers taking time off for injuries that could be avoided.
If you’re looking to avoid these kinds of construction safety accidents on your construction jobsite, here are some questions—and answers—to consider:
• Do you have the right kind of ladder?
Different kinds of ladders include step ladders, extension ladders, platform ladders, telescoping ladders, and multipurpose ladders. Explore these options before making a decision about the ladders you’re going to use on your next construction jobsite. The difference may seem trivial now—but, it won’t if there’s any injury due to incorrect usage.
• Who is inspecting your stairways and ladders?
If the answer is no one—that is a habit you definitely need to change. A competent, responsible supervisor should carefully inspect all ladders and stairways for safety issues. This should be done at regular, scheduled intervals throughout use on the worksite. When inspecting stairways and ladders, it is important to consider everything from small defects to major code violations.
• Does he or she know what to look for?
Some important components to check on ladders include traces of grease, dirt, or other various substances that can lessen traction. If you find any of these, do a thorough job of cleaning them up. The same goes for stairways, which can be very dangerous with any amount of residue. A good clean will also aid in exposing small cracks or defects that can result in injuries. On stairs, make sure every surface is covered with tread. Also, make sure your inspectors know that stairways rising over 30 inches require a handrail.
• What should I do if a potential risk is found?
Immediately discontinue use of this stairway or ladder. Even if it’s just a minor defect, it is vital to stay on top of these issues. Use warning signs and stickers to show craftworkers what needs to be avoided and you’ll find your jobsite running with more confidence than before. Ladders are easy to replace and are worth the additional investment for the safety of your craftworkers. Although stairways are a little more difficult to repair or replace, following code will give you more peace of mind when operating on the job.
To increase a safety culture on your worksite, learn more about Tradesmen International’s construction safety philosophy.