By Colin Norris, Mar 26 2019 04:16AM
While a man in his thirties was on a ladder cleaning out gutters, the ladder he was standing on slipped sideways when he reached out along the gutter.
Even though he was only about 2 metres (6 feet) from the ground, his head hit the ground with such force that he died in spite of the efforts of emergency service workers and emergency room doctors.
His death left his wife without a supportive, loving husband, and his eight year old daughter, two year old son and new born baby without a dad.
Some would say it was better he died rather than be left with a brain injury or other injuries from which he may never have fully recovered which would have imposed a significant burden on his family as often happens with serious workplace injuries. (Obviously, no loving family would say this.)
What makes this tragedy even more devastating is that it was FULLY PREVENTABLE if he’d only followed simple, basic ladder safety regulations and guidelines.
I’m not saying that he would have known them, but that he should have - especially if it was part of his job. And if he knew them, why didn’t he follow them? Why didn’t so many workers injured on the job follow the rules and procedures? (But that’s another topic.)
What about you? Do you know basic ladder safety?
Here are some basics every person using a ladder should know AND follow without excuse:
• Ensure the ladder is in good condition and suitable for the task.
• The ladder should be long enough so it extends sufficiently above the surface it is reaching to so the person is able to hold on while getting on or off at the top.
• Always maintain three points of contact with the ladder. Which is also why it is important to carry tools in a belt or to raise and lower tools or materials on a line.
• The ground should be firm and level.
• The ladder needs to be secured so it can’t slide out or slide sideways.
• Ladders should be well clear of any power lines so the ladder, person, materials and tools CANNOT come into contact with them. (If this is unavoidable the power needs to be turned off and secured so no one can accidentally turn it back on.)
• Never over-reach in any direction.
• Stay facing the ladder when on it.
• So your feet won’t slip off the rungs, wear suitable slip-resistant shoes, and before climbing on the ladder ensure the soles are clean of mud, grease etc.
• Read the safety information stickers on the ladder.
If the man in the story had only secured the ladder and not over-reached, he would probably have survived the day without serious incident. And that’s what we all want for ourselves, our workmates, and our loved ones.
Promote Safety produces workplace safety posters to help employers remind their workers of what they should and should not do for safety sake.
Promote Safety posters are available in a variety of sizes either printed or as PDF.