Construction season is right around the corner. Learn about the Ladder Last Policy so you can start eliminating fall-related injuries on your job sites.
In 2018 OSHA issued 7,270 fall protection violations to industries ranging from construction, electrician, scaffolding, and powered industrial trucks. Out of all these violations, ladders caused 81% of the fall-related injuries.
To combat the vicious cycle of serious fall-related injuries, big construction companies like Skanska, the largest construction company in the U.S. are putting a wider emphasis on the importance of the Ladders Last Program.
Despite the fact that construction workers commonly use ladders, 32% of the ladder-related injuries happened while descending and 10% occurred while carrying or handling the ladder, not using a ladder will prevent falls.
The Ladders Last program utilizes tools and equipment that will end the risk of anyone falling from a height. When it comes to safety equipment, the highest form of design is to design out all dangers. Therefore, in some instances, ladders should be the last resort.
What is the Ladder Last Policy?
Ladders Last Policy is based on prevention rather than protection. Understanding how people use ladders and how they get injured using ladders are the keys to prevention.
Sure, you can allow ladder use on job sites, but only when no other options to complete a task are workable. This policy requires pre-task planning and making site-specific safety plans of how to complete our work without a ladder by using a safer alternative
What should workers use instead of ladders?
When workers need to reach or support heavy items, ladders should not be used. Instead of using a ladder, enforce a Ladder Last Policy in a visual way and require workers to consider the alternatives:
• A scissor lift
• A mobile scaffold
• A pulley to lift materials
If a ladder is required on the job site, follow OSHA ladder safety regulations, including regularly inspecting ladders and following manufacturer’s instructions. Implementing a new safety policy, such as the Ladders Last Policy will prevent injuries. However, it will require the commitment of your entire workforce.
Give your workers a few examples of why using ladders on the job site is not the best option including:
1) Using the wrong type of ladder for the job. Most of the time workers grab the wrong ladder. it’s smaller and easier to handle because the right ladder is too heavy. Choosing the wrong ladder causes workers to over-reach.
2) Over-reaching and improper setup. Falls from height due to overreaching or improper setup result in the most catastrophic, life-altering injuries, per Occupational Health and Safety. When a ladder is improper, set up a side-tip accident can occur. To give you an idea of how much level group can affect tipping, if a 28-foot extension ladder is 1 inch off at the base, the top of the ladder will be 19 inches off. That puts the top of the ladder completely out of the footprint of the ladder.
3) Inspecting Ladders. A competent person must visually inspect job-made ladders for defects on a periodic basis and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use. Ladders should be free of oil, grease, and other slipping hazards.
You already know two things about falls in the workplace - falls are the number one cause of fatalities in the construction industry, and the improper use of fall protection is the number one OSHA violation. A Ladder Last Policy has been successful for many construction companies – now it’s your turn to give it a try.