By Wendy Bennett, CRSP, Executive Director, AgSafe
Falls from ladders are one of the leading causes of workplace injuries. Sprains and strains are the most common types of injuries associated with ladder use resulting from overreaching, shifting weight or body position, and lifting or carrying ladders.
Tripod ladders, also known as orchard ladders, are commonly used by workers to harvest tree fruit and by landscape workers for pruning and hedge trimming. This type of ladder should never be used like a step ladder or an extension ladder because it is not designed to be set up on firm, smooth ground and may collapse if not used properly.
4 Steps to Ladder Safety
- Inspect – Check that ladder is in good working order and all parts are secure, do not bind or have too much play, are free of cracks, corrosion, rot, excessive wear. Rungs are free of mud or other slippery substances, and treads are in good condition. Repair if possible or safely dispose of ladder.
- Set-Up – Position ladder making sure it is stable and not over a soft spot or a hole – tie off if necessary. Check that ladder is leaning at the proper angle – this can be done by extending your hand to the ladder at 90 degrees.
- Use – Maintain 3-point contact when going up and down. Centre body weight between side rails and never overreach or stand on top 2 steps. Never carry heavy loads up or down.
- Storage – Never leave a ladder standing open at the end of the workday. Store ladders in accord with the manufacturer’s instructions and away from excessive heat and cold. Identify damaged ladders with an “out of service” tag attached and store away from non-damaged ladders or destroy by cutting the ladder directly down the centre of the rungs top to bottom and separating it into two pieces.
In British Columbia, WorkSafeBC reports that between 2012 and 2016, falls from elevation accounted for 15 % of agricultural workplace injuries.
Employers, managers and operators are responsible for creating and managing a safe work environment, and no matter the task, training is essential. Take time to properly train workers, especially young and new workers who are more at risk of injury due to inexperience and lack of hazard awareness. Supervise their activity until they become competent.
For over twenty years AgSafe has been the expert on safety in the workplace for British Columbia’s agriculture industry and offers site-specific health and safety programs, education, evaluation and consultation services.
For more information about AgSafe services or agriculture workplace safety call 1-877-533-1789 or visit www.AgSafeBC.ca.