Just One Rung Away

One of my fellow Mainers had a favorite saying about safety meeting subjects. He'd say, "If you can't come up with a topic, grab a ladder and cover what's written on the side."

And, if you have ever looked at the side of a ladder, there is quite a bit of information written there. However, eight times out of 10 someone in the audience would say, "Are you saying we have to train them on how to use a ladder?"—which brought on a brief dissertation of why.

So, why train on ladder use? Some of the very basic reasons are:

  • A ladder allows you to gain elevation. In a sense, how high you are multiplied by how you land divided by what you land on equals the extent of injury. Since falls are the number one killer in construction, this should be reason enough.
  • Ladders allow you to get into close proximity of electrical lines and associated circuits. Since this is the number two killer...well, you get the drift.
  • Ladders can slip and fall. Gravity wants to pull them down and people and vehicle traffic bump into them accidentally.  Knowing when to secure a ladder at the top and the four-to-one ratio (positioning ladder one foot from the wall for every four feet of height) is not common knowledge to new employees no matter what the industry.

Many employers cover this ground at orientation simply because of the frequency of exposure. These same outfits usually review it once or twice a year to remind their people that they may be just one rung away from a painful event or much worse. Unfortunately, some workplaces don't take the time to do this very basic training at all.  And even though good information is written right there on the side of a ladder, even more ladder safety can be found at: